Two Fridays ago, we at Old Town Artists welcomed back Father Jogues as our portrait model. He’s the guy from the black-and-white painting a few posts ago. He’s a retired Episcopalian priest, thus the nod to the old Red House Painters tune, “Priest Alley Song.” It’s a pretty one, but a little too somber to truly fit the jovial sitter.
This time around I tried to do three paintings, in three different styles – all at once… As Bowie said, “Well he can tell you that he tried.”
Only one of the attempts turned out okay (and only with a little extra help, as you’ll read):
Successes include the likeness (the features), and his complexion. The design of the piece, on the other hand, is a bit weak.
I’d call this a “digitally finished watercolor.” I used Photoshop to deepen the shadow on his neck, adjust the contrasts a bit, and intensify the colors generally. The photo I started with needed some color correction anyway, and after getting it mostly right, I noticed my favorite part of the whole piece had kind of been lost.
I was quite fond of a streak of nearly electrical ultramarine blue on the neckline of the sweater that existed in the original piece. When I warmed the photo up, I lost a lot of the blues. I had to bring them back, using some localized color re-balancing.
The blue hues ended up being added in the last stages when I realized that the picture was essentially all green and red.
I have an almost insurmountable need to see a full range of colors in artworks. This leads me to despise the cheap prints you find for $10 at IKEA. If you look closely, you will find the dots that comprise the image do not represent the full spectrum of colors. Whereas even your home printer will use Cyan (blue) Magenta (red) and Yellow plus black for rich darks, cheap prints will use only two or three inks to save money. To many people, this is adequate, but the well-trained (snobby) eye can spot the missing spectrum a mile away. Yuck.
The pitfall I encounter is a slight tendency of my pictures to sometimes sacrifice subtlety and mood in an effort to get all the colors in there. It’s like that kid who has to use every crayon in every drawing. It can actually be limiting.
In some recent drawings, I’m learning to appreciate some more focused color schemes. For examples, see ‘Haunt’ and ‘Twice Shy’. Haunt uses a fairly straight complementary color scheme. That what arty people call it when you use colors from the opposite ends of the color wheel, like purple and yellow. I’m not sure about the other two. I’ll have to ask some experts.
More color is on the way, so stay tuned.