The Old Conquistador - demo

Philip Howe Fine Art
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Fine Art - Figures,Portraits, Other Subjects
Life Drawings (Figure drawings)
Early work_ 1980's, 1990's
Demos of several Paintings
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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.

Pencil drawing used to project onto canvas
Pencil line with thin reddish brown oil was, then let dry overnight
Heavy oil with liquin medium washed over then let to dry overnight
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 and darker brown over the dry brown underpainting
First opaques added
More opaques added, arm redrawn and some color begins
More redrawing of the arm, further color
Background gray added, first pass
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.

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

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