So this whole idea of going from sketch to painting started with a frame.
I was visiting Peninsula Gallery to review my painting inventory as they were in the process of reopening the gallery (after being closed for COVID-19).
Then Vivian, Manager of Peninsula Gallery, suggested I do a nude painting for the frame. And so the idea was planted!
At home, I began flipping through my life drawings for any that would give me enough information to work from. My selection would need to be able to work in the 3:4 format of the frame, and most importantly, it needed to have a clear value pattern worked out.
I settled on this five-minute sketch done in a recent zoom session. (I wrote about that experience here.)
Although this sketch would work, the background had no value or structure design. So I decided to try a couple of small thumbnails – one with a light background and one with a middle-value option. Here they are:
Once I decided on the thumbnail to follow, I drew up the figure with vine charcoal on UART 500 paper (6 x 8 in).
I first blocked in the three main value areas and then gradually built up layers of soft pastel. It was an interesting process, feeling my way along, checking the initial life drawing sketch, adding pastel, stepping back, and then continuing. When I got to a place where I knew I was just fiddling around, I stopped.
You can see the whole process sped up in this YouTube video:
Here are a couple of photos from the progress. The painting process took about an hour. This included a lot of stepping back and forth from the easel. The trickiest part was fussing with the details of the face with chunky soft pastels but somehow, in the end, I think it works. 😀
So now I want to encourage you to pick a sketch (that has the values at least partly figured out) and fly with it. Just have fun and see what happens. Go easy on yourself as you’re doing this. Tell the critic to go take a hike! The thing is, since you’re working only from a sketch, you can’t be judged on the outcome! Right?!
When we’re used to the idea of getting information from our subject, whether from life or a photograph, it can be anxiety-provoking to work only from a black and white sketch. On the other hand, it can be sooooo liberating!! You can work less literally and that means you’re not restricted by the colour you see (because there isn’t any to see!). You can get bold and experimental. Just remember to use colours that match the value ranges (dark, middle, and light) of the sketch and then PLAY.
I also want to use this opportunity to remind you to think about adding value notations to your sketches. I often sketch using only an outline and I do these sketches to maintain my drawing and observational skills. But adding a simple value three-value pattern ups that sketch a notch and also makes it a perfect drawing to paint from.
As may be evident by now, going from sketch to painting is also a great way to become looser in your work. So try it and let me know how it goes.
And I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment. Have you gone from sketch to painting before? If so, please share your process. And if you haven’t, I encourage you to share what’s holding you back, and if you’re excited or anxious about trying it out.
Until next time,
PS. I slipped the pastel into the frame to see what it looks like. The pastel is slightly washed out in the photo but….here it is in case you’re curious! I LOVE the way it looks!