Working From Life is Necessary
I've stressed this before, but it really is imperative to work from life. Even a 10 second sketch from life will have more magic than a finished painting from a digital photo. I emphasize this in my classes and I will always tell everyone how important it is. There's really no way to put it into words. It's like listening to live music Vs. listening to through other means. I also feel way more proud of my work when I work from life.
I always prefer to work on a toned canvas instead of white and I wanted to share what I think is the easiest method for toning canvas. The way I do it now is that I take a small amount of ivory black on a cotton rag and add a touch of Gamsol and then I simple rub it gently with circular motions into the canvas. It's very simple and the best part is that it dries very quickly. I also like the texture that the rag makes on the surface to give it a little character so it's not a perfectly flat tone.
You can tone your canvas any color that you like, I prefer to use ivory black to make a cool gray, but you could also use burnt umber, raw umber and burnt sienna as some other options. I recommend using an earth tone because they're neutral, they dry fairly quickly and they're very stable pigments.
Next time you paint, test out some canvas tones!
I finished up this memorial portrait and I'm very excited to give it to my patron. The portrait progressed very smoothly and I really enjoyed working on it. I really tried my best to capture a feeling of life and spirit in this piece.
As a side note on technique, I had some thoughts about oiling out, which is the application of a thin layer of oil before you begin to paint to bring out sunken colors. I recently read that oiling out could provide some problems for the longevity of your painting; the problems could arise from the fact that oil yellows with age and there's no way of removing old oil, unlike an old varnish. I'm always concerned about the longevity of my paintings and thus, I will not be oiling out in the future. I used to think it was necessary in order to ease my paint strokes, but that isn't true anyway. Painting is an endless mystery.
Have a nice evening everyone--
I worked today for a while and I'm having moments where I'm really happy with it and then other moments where I don't like it; that happens a lot during the painting process. I didn't oil out today because it wasn't completely dry from last time, but I have to remember to oil out for next time to ease the painting process.
Have a great weekend everyone!