Sunday, 27 May 2012

Day 3 - First full day painting plus trip to Perugia

We had the same pose as the previous day but I opted to start a new painting. The following notes are what I took down from the demo which are basically a summary of Zhaomings painting method and other things as they came up.

He normally does his under-paintings in burnt umber for indoors, (warm shadows) and ultramarine for outdoors (cool shadows). The stages are:-

1 Placement - do an envelope of the total figure, look at negative spaces and the big shapes.

2 Get the gesture down, map in the key joints accurately and get the proportions right at this stage. Zhaoming measured but I am not sure that he wasnt just setting us a good example. I would think he could give you the dimensions of a pile of zebras at 100 ft with his ability to see detail and well trained eye. Whatever, It worked for me and I measured too!

3 With a big brush mark out the dark accents and star creating a two value statement - just light and dark. Unify the shadows, just look at the shapes and don't worry about what It is. For me trying not to lose the landmarks was important but of course there will always be some of the joints in the light and often that's where the light and darks are clearest.

4 Start working on the mid tones and do the colour block, adding white here but keeping the darks transparent. Remember the contrasts, warm/cool, (colour compliments) and exaggerate the colours to your taste and to reflect the look you want. This is still a big brush block in, detail must be resisted. Separate the brushes between tones, light darks and mids. Push the lights and the darks to leave a wider range for the mids even if later on you move them back in. In the mid tones focus on colour not detail. Only indicate the detail at critical parts and save the white accents for the end. Dark accents at the start, white at the end.

5 Modelling the form. Lay in all your planes, and look for the shapes of colour but still only suggest and indicate and don't go too heavy on the detail.

Emphasise just one side or another with soft and hard edges, don't outline things.

Pay attention to depth, make sure things further away don't jump out, atmospheric perspective.

Add small amounts of a complimentary colour in the shadows.

Save all the detail for the lights, keep the shadows simple.

There is more but its a full scedule and even getting time to write up the notes and thoughts for the day is a challenge so for now here is my painting from today. I say mine, but really it's a collaborative piece with Zhaoming demonstrating some of the finer points relevant to me on my actual painting which was really helpful but I can't claim it as my own. He did some work on the hair, simplifying it where I'd got over fussy. He also lost the edge of the upper left arm, tidied the bodice area and the lower right sleeve and also reduduced the contrast in the light part of the skirt. So the improvements are clear to see, actions can definately speak louder than words, but hopefully with the next painting I will do more of this for myself. Zhaomings said I was ok with my drawing, block in and values but need to work on the modelling, detail, atmosphere and finish. I couldn't agree more.

So after a full and intense day of painting we had half an hour back at the villa before setting off for an evening at Perugia. What a suprise that turned out to be, a fairly big town but with an old town within the new packed full of history and architecture and lots of interest and it had a great vibe. We did a whistle stop tour, took loads of photos then had a meal in a local restaurant which would have been perfect except for three of us didn't get our meals until everyone else had eaten theirs. Boar is pretty popular around here at the moment (boar season?) but I had beef and rocket with parmesan and a glass or two of Chianti. Anyway this is Italy and we have to remember to always expect the unexpected. It was a great way to end the day but we didn't stop from 8.00 am till 11.00 pm and so i think we all fell into bed pretty exhausted.

What a day! Couldn't be better, oh and he weather is just perfect, nicely hot days and cool evenings.



  1. Thanks for taking the time to blog when you have such a busy schedule.


  2. No problem Dave, you've kept me going to be honest but it's important to do this as you go otherwise so much gets forgotten. I am just writing the sort of things I like to read about, I agree this is what blogging is all about.
    All the best.

  3. It sounds like a wonderful if steep learning experience. When you get back I’m sure I’ll have a stack of questions for you, till then work and play hard :)
    Those last two posts show just how much you are learning.

    Wave Dave