I hope, for some of the students who have written to me asking for more demos, that this gives a fair idea of what possible techniques I used, among a variety of choices. And isn't that one of the joys of painting? To choose HOW to do something as well as what to paint, and each of us would come up with a different look altogether. I did an experiment once with an illustration class I taught where I simply asked each of the 30+ students to illustrate from a single piece of reference. From the same image they all came up with different interpretations and many styles. Those who knew more about how to achieve good technical realism had the easiest time creating something close to what they were shooting for, since they knew more about HOW to paint and the tools needed. But those who knew less about technique came up with some of the more interesting paintings. I have tried to remove myself of the constraints of realism and do abstract or heavily designed work but always seem to come back to the need to paint realistically, or interpret what I want with the knowledge and craft acquired through the years. With the students, those happiest with their results were those who knew certain techniques and achieved something visually close to what they wanted, and knew, with the right attitude and perseverance, that they had a good shot at getting much better technically. Its like nothing stood in their way. Whereas the less technical but not necessarily less talented students, were somewhat frustrated in that they were stifled in ignorance of the craft but not expression. Painting is a fascinating psychological experience overall and one that can really tap into your soul, if you are brave enough to look there. Realism is an advanced craft that can really push you for certain effects, but the residue of the results can be a powerful statement of the inner mind and everyone can do it if they let themselves just express what they want without fear of 'not painting well'. I hear that all the time, along with- "I wish I could paint but I can't even draw". Hey, we all start somewhere. No one said you had to follow rules like having to learn to draw well first, or at all. I just know good drawing is a foundation of every artist I particularly like, but that's just my preference in seeing quality work. Some of the most expressive pieces though have less to do with drawing and more about color and light and expression.
So hopefully these demos will add some insight as to technique and one way of doing realism. Beyond that its all up to you to explore the HOW of creating your best work. For me, the experimenting is the most fun and what keeps me passionate about exploring new ways to get the effects I want.
Fixed pencil on canvas, 5 x 6'
Figure blocked in
Central area quickly blocked in
Rough base block in of background area
Left background blocked in
Above you can see the initial color for the sea. I intentionally over saturated and hard edged the wavy pattern, making it up with greens and reds as I went along. I know when I get ready to put the fog OVER this underpainting, the fog will stand out a bit more and tone down or kill the underlying color so that it becomes softer overall. I am not sure what color the fog should be at this point, its just a feeling as I go along, assuming it will wind up as a greenish gray, made up of purple, blue and earth tones all muddled together in translucent scumbles and washes mixed with heavy medium (liquin and walnut oil here) to give the illusion of more transparent fog.
Sail blocked in over the yellow wash base
Refining the background area making up hills
Block in of hills using 1" flat and twisting edge of brush