Blue Robes Study - demo

Philip Howe Fine Art
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This piece was pretty straightforward in that it was more of an illustrators approach- do a decent drawing, color over it thin with local half-tones, then finish with some heavier paint, correcting and refining quickly as I go. How much simpler can painting be? I used to teach this method early in my illustration classes and it was always fun to see those students who were sure they couldn't do realistic rendering turn into pretty decent painters. I could never teach the WHY of doing good representational work, I suppose its obvious- its easier to make a statement and you get more respect from the viewer if it comes off rendered well as opposed to being rendered poorly- a matter of self respect and integrity to do good work. I saw, too, how that self respect encouraged them to do other things well with a renewed interest and intensity. Its easy to teach HOW to do it- thats the craft and anyone can develop with good drawing skills.
It's a shame more art schools are not competent enough to get this idea across and prefer to hire teachers who onlyknow enough to teach simple concept, if they teach at all, rather than what the students are wanting to learn- how to get their ideas out and onto the canvas. It doesn't have to be realism, but more often than not most schools push students so far away from it that they become discouraged. I suggest for those students who are sure they want to learn how to paint, find those few schools that really take the time to teach you what YOU want, not those schools that try to push upon your their old theories of avoiding techniques and pushing just concept.

Thin wash over refined pencil drawing, fixed.

Above on the left you can see my initial blue wash with paint thinned a little with mineral spirits and some Liquin medium. Liquin (Windsor-Newton brand) is a great tinting medium and perfect for initial and final layers. By adding Liquin to the wash it speeds up the drying so I know I can come back to a dry surface the next day. I use a big (house painters) brush and do this within a few minutes, then the background browns and just leave it set . The right side is simply the 2nd coat and you can see how much richer the color gets and how easy the method is. Simply, 2 coats are better than one. I am not glazing here, but putting on a semi-opaque layer each time. Combined with the grey pencil drawing underneath it begins to achieve a depth of realism with minimal effort.

A true glaze never uses white, but tints, like watercolor, with pure transparent hues for brilliant effects. Rembrant's best work is glazed in browns and ocher tints. The illustrator Maxfield Parrish was a master at it, often combining warm hues over cool to give the effect of warm sunlight drenching textured surfaces.

Below, my glass palette shows the blue mix and the bistol brushes used for closer edge work. I am not a great colorist, I use only one blue 99% of the time- Phalocyanine. I can get just about any blue shade or light blue comination with one or two colors mixed with this particular blue. Its not only a great sky blue but you can mix it with black for the deepest black I have ever seen with oils.

Palette showing general mixing
Full blocked in middle tones
Blue Robes Final 30x40
Hand Detail

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