The Old Conquistador - demo

Philip Howe Fine Art
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Fine Art - Figures,Portraits, Other Subjects
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This portrait was done as more of an experiment to play with traditional techinques using a solid brown underpainting and a fairly tight painting style. My friend John posed for the piece and tried his best to look mean, but its just not in him. I hope this shows some expression of feeling for what the old soldiers must have felt in seeing a new world being torn apart yet knowing their own aging and destiny in troubled times. I may do more images of past figures, it was certainly fun to do.

old_conquis_drng.jpg
Pencil drawing used to project onto canvas
oil-wash-over-pencil-line.jpg
Pencil line with thin reddish brown oil was, then let dry overnight
heavy-wash-with-medium-.jpg
Heavy oil with liquin medium washed over then let to dry overnight
brown-value-base-blockin.jpg
Burnt umber browns for underpainting base

The first 3 images are really just about an hours worth of work, with an overnight drying time in between each stage. Basically I used an oil wash with mineral spirits to tone the raw canvas and seal the thin pencil drawing. This piece is only 20x30" and I often do quick studies this size to break from larger paintings, so I am in a habit of doing them in a few quick stages. The second image uses liquin mixed with a heavier wash and the 3rd image, above, uses liquin medium with burnt umber to form a base value, both drying faster by the use of the medium and set in front of a fan overnight.

black-over-brown-value.jpg
Black and darker brown over the dry brown underpainting
first-opaques.jpg
First opaques added
first-opaques-b.jpg
More opaques added, arm redrawn and some color begins
redrawing-of-arm.jpg
More redrawing of the arm, further color
background-gray-first-pass.jpg
Background gray added, first pass
bknd-gray-1st-pass-b.jpg
Background futher blocked in, ready for overpainting of 2nd darker layer

At this point most of the base values are in and I can begin to darken the painting. Since I don't have to worry about the drawing any more, I can concentrate on the feeling and density of the next layers to enhance the realism overall. The difference between this stage and the final, below, is 4 or 5 layers of transparent paint, carefully built up to form a rich overall tone, especially in the skin and background areas. Browns work especially well to create a golden patina and there are several paint makers now offering a range of quality transparent hues. I especially like the ones from Dan Smith. If you have questions of specific colors used, I can list them here for future reference, although its the translucent combination of colors, red over brown over a golden ochre, even some transparent blue to deepen the shadows, that give the overall tone, not just brown on a white or gray base.

aging-conquistador-fina.jpg
The Old Conquisador 20x30" oil on canvas
conqust_detail1.jpg
Head detail. Note the dense skin tones built up from 4 or 5 layers over the base flesh

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