As many of may know, I really enjoy painting cattle and other farm animals. They have a simple, unassuming manner to them that I really find attractive. I found this bull on a recent trip to the wine country of Sonoma Valley. I have included a number of photographs to give you a general idea of what my approach is for one of these cattle portraits.
Diagram 1: The painting is a 24 x 22 and I’ll be working from a studio study that I completed a couple of weeks ago. I begin each piece with a general drawing of the important shapes and features of the cattle just to get an idea of where everything finds itself on the canvas. I then begin to block in all the shadows in the piece using a mix of darker warm and cools. Most of my values at this point are what I consider my darkest darks in any given area. I’ll lighten up these areas as the painting continues to move forward.
Diagram 2: In this stage you can see that most, if not all, of the shadow areas are blocked in. Again, notice the combinations of warms and cools in the the colors. This stage is still very rough and is designed to simply tell me how the balance of light and shadow are working together. How are my shadows? are they too dark? Too cool? too Warm? In this stage I’m working very quickly to get everything blocked in without getting bogged down in any details.
Diagram 3: In this stage I lay in the background. In this case I’m using a dark steely blue which compliments the colors in the cattle it self. The value is very close to the value of the lower part of the cattle and lightens and gets slightly cooler as it gets closer to the top. I also start painting the light on the cattle. It’s hard to see in the photo but I’m using combinations of cools and warms that are of the same value to create the light. The same is true of those areas in shadow. The play of warm and cool colors that are very close in value is key in good picture making.
Diagram 4: In this stage I’m continuing to lay in the light and I’m also starting the lighten up the shadows and adding more reflected light, especially in the shadows of the face. Notice how cool the shadows have become. I’ll continue this process of refining colors and values until the painting is finished. I’ll also be softening edges through out the painting, you may notice this on the final piece seen in diagram 5
Diagram 5: Here’s the final piece.
Diagram 6: Here’s a shot of the set-up including the study I used to complete the larger painting of Chester.
It’s difficult to capture every step required to create a painting in this blog format, let me know if you have any questions regarding my process that I may not have shared in this post. I’ll do my very best to answer any questions you might have.
I’ll be starting a series of monthly in-studio demonstrations starting November 28th, 2012. (Yes, tomorrow) If you’re interested in attending these demonstrations just sign up for my newsletter which will contain monthly dates for each of the demonstration.
I hope to see you.