- Lesson Details
In week ten, instructor Glenn Vilppu will continue showing you his approach to designing a compositional study for a painting featuring multiple figures. Glenn teaches you every step of his traditional process. Here, you will focus on the steps of refining and finishing.
Throughout this course, you’ll have access to the NMA community for feedback and critiques to improve your work as you progress.
Transcription not available.
not try some variation on this background. Just a piece of
tracing paper over the top but
I want to take and create a little bit more depth into the
work because I've got starting on the left hand side
I've got this thing moving in coming in but
just it was bothering me. So I think I'm gonna try -
this figure is leaning out towards us this way and we got
the movement going in here. I'm just going to pick up this
And use maybe a tree form. I don't know.
how this then at the same time, if that's going in
then I would take and be pushing
elements going out at the same time picking up tones that come
This is a typical typical way
actually to take and work. I'm going to come around.
Maybe we can start thinking.
I think that could be much more interesting.
Start to pull.
Okay, I'm going to take
and that gives me an idea of where I'm going. I'm just going to take it and draw
on the paper with the background figures.
Just give me a sense of where I can go.
Now what - as I'm doing this I'm really trying to pick up
elements of and this figure is coming forward. So I'm
really going to be pushing stuff back in.
Now, as I'm doing this, I'm thinking of where alignments
that are taking and carrying through. Still
in the work.
This is very typical. You look at many many, many paintings
Renaissance. You find that figures were added, taken out,
move, backgrounds added and taken out.
Whether you're talking about a DaVinci, Michelangelo,
constantly adjusting, and changing.
Now, that makes it much more of an interesting thing.
But it's all good now, it gives me an opportunity to take and
shapes and tones.
We start to - so as I'm doing this, then building up.
Now this is going to allow for
a lot more
play within the figures because it creates the -
an atmosphere of trees, landscape. So, I can, if I
desire, I can bring in all kinds of cast shadows, although
I could anyway, just because of the skies have clouds in them.
You can make the light come from wherever you want.
It was a little bit of a bother in that there was a
Was feeling flat to me.
And so I wanted to create
A little bit more volume oor depth within the work.
So now I can start to
play and build some of this stuff up a bit.
So, also one of the things that as you're working.
you work on one section and I'll work on another section
and you carry one up a little bit more developed than
another. Then you come back and do something else a little more
developed. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to take and
work on the right hand figure for a while, and along with the
background and carry these a bit farther.
So, what I'm doing is I'm coming back in.
Just clarifying I'll take and put a little bit more tone down
and then I'll probably stump it down. I come back in with a
kneaded eraser and pick out the light.
I want to feel the flow.
Figure's really leaning. So I need to -
also, it's been
a bit of time between
sessions working on the drawing, which is always good
because that gives you a fresh eye when you come back to it.
also, this is a pretty standard for me is
I generally don't work
I use models only
say demonstrating in a class. Other than that, so far as
painting goes and composing
it's strictly from imagination.
Changing the girl's hair here to give me a some lines that tend
to hopefully will tend to go a little bit more
with what I'm pushing with the trees in the background. Now, I
can take that line,
I think the arm is and I'll pick up
tones. So you can see that I'm - it's really the abstract
element here now that's the important part.
Try not to spend too much time with the detail the beginning.
gets me moving on.
Now this figure's leaning I'm going to
looking at this whole thing here, I'm thinking I can work
with the light.
Maybe coming down.
Working with tone underneath,
create a cast shadow.
I think I mentioned several times that the one advantage of
working with this polychromos pencil
is that the -
they're able, you're able to take and
get tones out of them
and doesn't break and you can erase it.
I'm thinking of the light coming down, so maybe this
Notice that what I'm doing is I'm changing things
is even slightly out of proportion of elements.
I'm doing it, not for measurement, but by taking and
just looking at the figure and seeing
how it - how in the sense that they use the term, how it
So I'm taking an adjusting it just the same way I would be
evaluating somebody if I saw them walking down the street,
look at him saying well the leg too long, too short.
Something we constantly do.
I think I'm having your hand come up on top of the head.
Now I'm trying to weave
elements I say extending lines.
What I'm looking at here is that these side proportions
were too much the same
I need to either get larger
and maybe I will because that would give me
the opportunity to be thinking of this as really sort of an
old tree now.
And it's got a lot of irregularities to it.
That gives me lots of opportunities to take and
One thing of nature.
is that it's
you can hardly do anything
that is more extreme or having more surprises than you
can find in nature.
So it gives me lots of
room for taking and inventing and creating lines
I can use.
since I'm doing this
I can take and start to
consider what the shapes of the stuff in the background here
All of this taking and creating a general movement that's going
in that direction.
And if I start to
thinking maybe that these very, very ancient olive tree.
I can take and try thinking of the trees in the background
Okay I've still got my
C here and we've created we still have a coastline out
As I'm dealing with that I can take and got all
this stuff going through here.
I'm just wondering if
I need something
going off in this direction,
I'm going to take and stumped this down here, and then, come
back at it again and see.
Even here to create a little bit of tone.
I'm thinking that this tree in the background will be treated
relatively flat tone.
Here we would start coming in to.
of the light on the figure.
Gonna draw into this some more.
in doing it, what I'm doing here is the whole process then
taking and next step is I take and develop this,
once I've got a drawing that I'm - composition overall - that
I'm fairly comfortable with then taking and
doing individual figures,
possibly painting, doing
rough paintings of parts to see how the color is going to
And the actual tonal qualities that will be developed.
where this leg is coming down and where would this be
hitting the frame. Then I'm tying that point down into this tree,
hitting same basic, same spot up on the frame up here. Now
also looking at that is this is a parallel, this whole thing is
paralleling so much of what I've got going here, and here's the
same general sense. We've got this movement going that way
playing of opposites, constantly, as I'm going
through and pulling this up so that all of the elements now,
there's some kind of rationale for where everything is at.
Here I'm thinking of these very, fairly straight lines. Now, I'm
really quite round
I'll probably drop this little bit.
Feeling the distances in here or better.
And then this is going to the movement of this
feeds right into
what we've got going. This figure going back up and up.
This is taking pulling out, coming through.
At the same time I'm going back in.
And we've got our closest objects as we come into the
and we will be having the deepest space and
basically the horizon back behind.
So there's a nice - I like the contrast between this open
size here, closed off size over here which means I think was
probably what was bothering me before. I wasn't - in other
words, is one of the things that I discuss a lot in my
class is the contrast from one side of the picture to the
Over here which is really a mass but we blocked off the
depth. Over here we've got the mass is in the front and the
depth behind so the different play also I'm creating a -
without really focusing too much on perspective but you're
getting is foreground object, trees to the next and the next and
so we're progressively your progressively moving back into
And that's going to the left behind, these figures that are
coming out to the front.
Now, as I look at the, some more of the troublesome area
is right here.
This is not working very well. What I need to do is just
knock this down.
Rethink how that figure's gonna go.
I'm going to put a little piece of
tracing paper over this, to take and...
This, I'm not worrying about the stuff up here being
correct I just want
Some other possibilities here.
In other words, I'm just raising that leg up.
Trying to find a -
how I can make it work with some of the other figures here.
Now what - the minute I draw that line up, I can see
that this is going to carry through a bit more now and that
will carry through with what the tree is in the background
I've got this, this.
Now if I'm twisting the figure,
Possibly have this figure now looking down this way also,
maybe taking the arm coming back
That's some possibility. Okay.
Carrying the line.
the figure in here.
Pulling this arm back.
Again, working heading, heading for this point,
this is not quite the center.
Which is okay. It could have bee, I could have used the
center. It's just not working out that way.
I want to
the line a bit stronger.
Then I can
until that becomes...
Okay. I like that. That looks like we're headed in the
right direction. Now
figure out what I'm going to do with that hand.
So now we're pulling down, come through
and I don't need the drapery going up that way anymore.
In fact, I'll take the drapery now and this will work to take
and add down and
this way and taking now, this is going to take and work
So we're building off of that point.
And I can take the drapery actually all the way.
Heading for this point, maybe even carry it to there.
I think that's a much better solution.
Now, we're really evolving
Pull through down.
The center figure is almost feels too large.
Might have to -
the torsos are about the same size.
This one is might be small.
Going back in. Let's take and remove
or I should say add
What I'm trying to do here is create a - I
don't want all this to be so overpowering.
And so I need to take and create a sort of secondary
play. This is going to be taking and working with the
vertical of this figure. So I'm taking and building up
the lines in here now.
Okay see things this visually now you can start to feel that
this is working more now is what we've got going
And we build.
I keep putting these sort of random things to
make it not quite so extreme a look.
So, we get a little more, get a little bit of variety within
that's pretty extreme.
I need to
soften soften this a little bit
Now, I can also take and use the light
on the tree.
I'm thinking this is a strong diagonal.
Build building the
Now this whole area here is pretty dead at the moment.
So I need to take
the figure -
we got this figure is taking and
Pretty much having the whole - the figure
in light here.
I'm not sure if I want that or not.
I don't want right there is the tangency between the foot, the
I need to resolve that.
Okay, that's better, let's move it over.
Actually works better
with all this other stuff we got going.
Still not sure.
Under this line.
Need to come down.
There's always some little thing that takes
like the pebble in your shoe
maybe but it drives you crazy. Okay, let's see here.
No what if that actually, if I took that leg,
came out this way.
Boy that creates a strong line.
Maybe even try to show the underside of the foot a little bit. Come through.
I have to shorten a little bit.
So you can see now
one problem creates this solution for something else
with its own problems.
Now, that feels like it's too Wooden.
I need to
I want to take, give this one a little bit more shape.
I'm gonna have to leave that for right now
and come back to that later.
I'm not - need to let that one rest.
Meanwhile we can take and think about
the ground here
is going to be.
Taking and just
enlarging this figure slightly.
As I look at it it feels in comparison and particularly this figure
on the same ground
feeling a little
small, this is a rather large figure right behind it.
Pushing, pushing the scale a little bit more.
Like notice it's not a tremendous difference, we're
just taking and
slightly and pull.
Thicken the arm.
So, this figure now is a
So what's you're - what you're witnessing is, of course
the birth pangs.
Creative process are constantly adjusting, changing,
everything as you're doing it.
I'll have to take and do some serious drawing. I'll do this
probably on the side of how that hands and that book,
how that's all going to work.
They're not necessarily looking having a model but taking
using here. Now what I'm doing as I'm talking here. I'm
dropping that. So it's not quite the tangency.
That knee going a little bit behind. I can have multiple
lines here maybe raise that, in other words water and have it
and picking up a
in the background.
So, you're building, building,
and I could even come through
and we could have
a distant hills
in the background.
I don't know if I'm going to want that or not, but here I
can have the palisades,
Now, taken quite a metamorphosis here,
couple of hours worth of working here.
Gotta keep coming back
to this figure going up.
Constant adjust, adjust, adjust.
Instead of - it just occurred to me that I
didn't want to break this line so I can take and actually
come in and use
that I will take and then we can see that this is sort of a
maybe on a bank and we have the -
down below here a little bit we would have the surf
then the water so that this gives us an impression that
we're slightly up on an embankment.
That way, I can maintain a fairly strong line here we
have the sense that this is an embankment. Also, I'm taking and
at the same time that I'm lifting up.
Which is what I would want to do.
Much, much of what this is
you're composing your -
be like taking and composing a piece of music or something, as
you're doing it
you feel things whether they -
as you can see, I've been trying to be rather
logical about a lot of it, but it's also a tremendous amount
Creativity, if you would call.
But I'm taking and
constantly feeling like here really pushing this tone down
and feeling the tone from the hair coming down a little bit. All
of this feeding into
we got going up.
I don't know if I like that sort of rounded surface thing.
Giving this a sharper
feel that when we can take and use that sharpness, in other words coming
I'm not sure what that line is going to take and work with.
Worry about that later.
I like the little bit of sharp.
Gives it a sense of
the way air, the way things flow in the wind.
I'm tempted to take and go back into the into this with ink.
I think first, I'll just let things settle for a little bit
decide because I can take and
go back in with in. I can then go back
over that with wash.
Start to clarify it. I don't want to do that before I've
feeling fairly reasonably comfortable with what I've got
That leg is still a problem.
I might have to do some independent drawing outside of
the composition here to take and just
As much as I like that straight line, maybe it's too much. Maybe
I need to go back.
That leg's been drawn so many times looking like
Maybe I don't need to have the foot raised.
Maybe just taking and
just her hip is really up, drop, that foot can actually
take and be flat.
Don't have to have it erased.
And then slightly turn it.
This is what's so nice about the polychromos.
Totally manipulate it.
Back to -
close to what I started with.
Okay, now I'm going to take and do a little drawing on this
figure on the right here.
It's really giving me a bit of a pain here.
Pretty much just
sense of the way the leg goes. So I'm going to take and
feel the flow.
this leg is coming down.
Now I think I'm just going to take and
think I can just drop this leg.
I think that's the
cleanest and simplest way of doing it.
Coming off of the hip.
Buttocks a little bit wider.
Tone pushing out.
Maybe not quite such a potish belly.
I think also,
I'm here to help get the sense of the shifting. I can maybe
show a little bit of the buttocks on the other side.
And then get this coming down.
It was really foolish to continue going on before I
this whole - because this is important. Important figure here.
And so I need to
get that working
before I take and go back in.
Dealing with the rest of it.
I think that'll work.
Particularly start dropping,
dropping the other buttocks there. I think that helps to -
that's what one of the things we were
missing there a little bit.
And coming through
and feel this dropping.
Sometimes the simplest
is the best
and you're trying to -
you're trying to get a little too complicated.
So actually dropping that, dropping
just the line of the buttocks.
Brings the figure around so we can actually getting the whole
sense of the twist a lot better.
I can reduce some of this stuff, the clutter here so I can see
what I'm doing.
go over this
using some wash. Now this will be very subtle play to start
This is something I carry around in my pocket at all time.
This is Altoid can turned into a
sketch pad watercolor set. The construction on the inside here
is from a Sculpey.
The clay that you can use to take
bake it, children's stuff even. Can bake it and put it in the oven
and then add water color to it.
Actually, this was
made by one of my students.
Careful what colors I pick out here.
This is just, I'm gonna actually make a
sort of a sepia
So this will blend a little bit with
colors that I've got, I can take and this is
a little bit warmer tone.
And this is a water brush, the water is just in the
handle. I use this when I'm traveling, pretty much
what I use all the time. Now, that's a little darker than I
want to be to start with. So let's just take and
you can see this will blend in
with the color. So first of all, I'm just going to use it
as a line and started adding
I can get much more refinement working with a brush.
And go a lot faster.
And here I'll even take and put in,
indicate some of the idea of hair. So you can
see the tone I'm putting in is just blending in with the
that we've got going here.
You can - and I generally will - take and this will then
this again a step.
Then maybe I'll be adjusting this.
So, I'm just trying to feel.
Every time I go over, I'm
subtly adjusting the drawing
as I go through.
You can see the effect of working with the brush
is giving a much more clearer
sense of the form.
Even though it's very light, it has a way of solidifying.
Here's where we were
Okay. Head that going down, overlap.
You find that
just putting a line around form tends to give it a more
Now, as I am going through, just the act of
putting a line around something
tends to clarify it.
Make it a little more complete.
But I find my for myself now I work with any of the brush,
it's much more, has a much more fluid quality to it. Now I'm
going to since I'm working with this figure here, I'm going to
same time now, start
putting some of this stuff in the background.
not necessarily the ultimate value of things.
It's really just again process.
Probably will be
coming back over the figures, maybe dropping them in tone
completely and then coming back in
and painting over them.
Let's say a white started modeling the form, but each
step that I'm going through here now
brings us a little bit closer to the painting. Now as I was
working, as I noticed that I - this is really a good
opportunity to take and the opposite here I've got this,
going to pull this out towards me.
Thinking about the leaves.
Coming out and then having the branch behind going in the
I'll probably have to go back in with the pen to clarify all
this, but this is I'm thinking,
pull this out.
A lot of the, the tree here that I'm drawing
sort of artistic memory.
In my many travels to Italy, you see a lot of these very
very ancient olive trees that take incredible shapes.
Often, if you look at things,
you wouldn't, you wouldn't imagine that as you're working,
they're so extreme and the contortions and the shapes and
the things that take place.
So this is lot of the quick turns and changes that I'm
adding in here
chalk it off to artistic memory.
You know, so I'm drawing I'm doing this light enough.
Or I can take and change
without any difficulty.
Separating, separating these planes.
It takes and helps to -
doing very simple,
simple patterns here,
Now, this isn't water color paper per se, but it is
allowing me to take and go through.
And just water.
I can basically get away with it because I'm not covering
And so the paper's not really buckling that much. A little bit
but not enough to
destroy the process here.
I tend to generally be pushing the limits of my materials.
I'm going to go into the other figures here.
Artist that you can look at
follows a similar
track and working that I'm following here is
the Italian Barocci.
I use him a lot
in taking and
As you can see what I was doing right there,
taking and actually using a
sort of a crosshatch with the wash.
Just putting a tone down
without making it a solid tone.
The sort of sneaking up on the whole way.
So I cross that edge with the -
with the brush is the same way I do with a pen.
Now, the intention is to take this
study that I'm doing and to carry it
farther into paint.
The first inclination was that
to do it much larger. Although, at this point,
I might I might take and work at this scale.
Little small for me
but we'll see.
That starts to clarify that whole form a bit more.
Here again I'll just cross hatch with a very subtle
Pushing that form down.
Picking up the lines
of drapery coming through.
Now I have to also start to
colors. Like, what color am I going to make that drapery?
Is it going to be just a white?
Or orange, or what color?
At this point, I haven't
we have all kinds of drapery on the ground
that can themselves take on color.
Okay stepping back
take and look at what
I'm dealing with here.
The things that interest me are the way one line plays against
the next. I think I've mentioned that a number times but
I like the play. It's like design. The -
one of the
differences that you find between artists and we all have
to taken deal with
how we deal with differences. What, what are the elements?
And that's often how you can define one artist to another
is how how they work with differences.
I'm really quite - quite a traditionalist.
Although at this point,
with my emphasis composition
and even working
with the kind of subjects here, just simple bathers, but the
bathers is not really - that's not the subject. Real subject
is the composition.
So we find that
in actually just dealing with composition,
with what I'm doing,
that becomes the in a way rather
a radical contrast to a what thing way things are done.
And also taking and dealing with the
And yet as you can see, this is - the subjects are real
but the emphasis that I'm interested in is the abstract.
So in a sense, it's not real
and it becomes a play in all of the different elements, then,
that you're working with.
realistic elements, but drawing from imagination.
But taking and bringing
quite formal element that
it a sense is not natural.
Because I really it's like a friend of mine
refer to painting is like, you very elaborate
In a sense
it's the, it's the game that's the process.
That is really the interesting part.
This figure here does not feel very -
don't want to say real, just
too generic. How's that?
Take a little bit more
sense of form to it.
Still haven't figure out what to do with this
book thing here.
Now I -
as I look at this, I think I want to take and
shift with a little media here. Now I'm going to take it and what
I'm going to do here is I'm to take and sharpen some of this stuff
up. I'm going to use a graphite pencil. This is a 4B.
I'm going through. So now I'm starting to pull.
Going over the surface.
what I want to do is they made this thing so dark in here and
that I -
Now, gets pushed in the back so I wanted to take and
this using the graphite now, which is actually the graphite
is that actually has a blue quality.
To take and bring that -
bring what I'm doing here into
focus a little bit more.
Get these forms.
Okay, I'm trying to see -
I'll get back in.
As you can se I'm definitely mixing medias.
If necessary, I'll come in
and add an incline.
What I was trying to accomplish with this is to bring -
to bring this tree out into so where it's coming into the
I'm taking and building, I want to
start suggesting what's, what's going on. I want this to come
will becoming a form in front.
And then branch behind
going in the opposite direction.
And this goes back in.
We will take and carry this all the way up.
Thinking of the way the roots are going.
I want to
pull things out this way.
Maybe I need to go back in here to clarify. To push this a bit
What I'm doing here is trying to
get this to go back
while this comes out.
That's coming back. All of this
play between the elements here,
through, going back.
is not the finish by any mean, this is the process that
continues on. So you can see the care and the considerations
that I take in making something. Now, this is going
to be carried on further, but this is the process that I go
through, and it takes time, takes considerations and the
also takes the whole series of understanding about
composition. So take a look at the composition series to take
and give you a further understanding of what I'm
Transcription not available.
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1. Developing the Background20m 27sNow playing...
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2. Building Forms and Refining the Figures I33m 36s
3. Building Forms and Refining the Figures II51m 47s
4. Introducing Wash and Finishing Touches31m 44s