Art tutorial with Christopher Adam

Please click the above banner to view more of Christopher Adam’s original post of this tutorial. Also visit our interview with the artist at http://www.khuantru.com/2012/01/interview-with-christopher-adam/ for 2012. Where he shares his experiences of his art and his writing also.

Michele Drawing

This step although simple is one of the most important, maybe the most important. A good painting must have a good drawing! I spent about 10 days on this step, 7 just on the shading alone. Its worth it though, the more you learn about the imagery in this stage, the easier it will be to paint later on. I prefer to draw in graphite, as the quality of the shading can be much richer than charcoal. Also I recommend doing about a week of studies before settling in for the principle drawing.

Date: 12/24/2009

Michele, Step 1

After transferring the drawing to panel, I use a mixed black oil wash to render the basic shading. It takes a few days to build up enough tone to capture some of the darker areas.

Date: 03/01/2010

Michele, Step 2

Here I’ve put a green oil wash over the flesh. This is necessary because oil paint has the same surface transparency as human skin. Because of this it is important for the under painting to feature colors that will enhance the final coats of paint. As light moves through the top layers of paint it will eventually refract off of the green layer causing green light to move back up through the painting. Since most skin tones are primarily a variation of pink, the refracted green light will act as a complement, which will strengthen the painting’s final colors, and hopefully help add a sense of luminosity.

Date: 03/01/2010

Michele, Step 3

In this step I’ve covered the rest of the surface with color. When painting realism it is important to cover all of the white on the surface. White light contains all of the colors, which means that a white surface can severely impact the way you see the colors you are putting down. It is important to just cover those white areas so that you can make the right decisions later on.

Date: 03/01/2010

Michele, Step 4

In this step I have begun glazing the flesh to start giving it some color. I like to start by adding some sienna glazes to the skin, followed by some pink glazes after the sienna has dried. She looks a bit like a zombie after this stage but I think it looks cool. (Just to be clear, all of my colors are mixed. When I say sienna I mean 65% Cad red light, 35% sap green. An oil painter should never use paint straight out of the tube!)

Date: 03/01/2010

Michele step 5

This stage is by far the most difficult! Its here that the real painting begins. Its pretty straight forward really, I mixed up the darkest dark, the lightest light, and two mid tones. I then use the under painting as a guide which helps make this very difficult step a little easier. I don’t need the colors applied here to be perfect, just close. Glazes in the later steps will make whats done here look much better.

Date: 03/01/2010

Michele step 6

Here I’ve begun the initial glazes. These are very important as they add life to the painting. With the glazes I really like to try using unusual colors to enhance the existing ones, although with this piece I kept it pretty straight forward. Pink, yellow, violet and white were the primary glazes used in this step, and the difference between steps 5 and 6 are quite stunning.

Date: 03/01/2010

Michele step 7

In this stage I’ve added her lip ring and more color to the eyes. At this point the face is almost done with the exception of a few more touch up glazes that I will do later on.

Date: 03/01/2010

Michele step 8

With the flesh tones done its time to address the rest of the painting. In order to do this I need a relatively white surface which means I must cover all but the flesh tones with a white wash. This fades out most of the color, but allows some of the original shapes and forms to remain.

Date: 03/01/2010

michele step 9

Here I’ve added some texture to the background and her hood. This is the part where I really get to experiment. I add a lot of various solvents and mediums to the paint in specific ways. This results in a variety of textures that provide an interesting contrast to the smoother texture of the flesh tones. I like to build up a many layers of this to develop rich organic textures.

Date: 03/01/2010

Michele Final, Oil on Panel, 2010, 9x12x1

And this is the finished painting. I added more layers of texture, as well as a few more touch up glazes to the face. It still needs to be varnished though, which will have to wait till 8/2010 at the earliest. The Varnish should really bring out those colors, and unify the surface textures.

Date: 03/01/2010
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