- Lesson details
In the fourth lesson of the series, Mark demonstrates an approach called underpainting or imprimatura, wherein the first layer of paint on the canvas serves as a base tone for the rest of the forms painted on top. In this lesson, Mark shows you how to apply your understanding of the planes of the head and the laws of light to make even the simplest of paintings “ring true.” In this case, he paints a portrait of the notoriously bullish financier J.P. Morgan.
In this series, Mark introduces you to the Reilly Method, a way of understanding the structure of the head through the use of rhythms, to help project accurate proportions of your subject from any angle.
As the protegé to the famous Fred Fixler, who worked directly under the legendary Frank Reilly, Mark’s unrivaled knowledge of the Reilly Method for drawing the head led to an illustrious career in Hollywood movie poster design. He later founded Associate’s in Art in Southern California, a top school for illustrators, from which many alumni became the “who’s who” in the fields of figurative art. He will be greatly missed, and his imprint on the industry, students across the world, and here at the NMA studio will last forever.
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I see tonal drawing as really painting
in charcoal, in pastel, or what have you. I also see pigment.
I see that as drawing with paint. So the two
are really two sides of the same coin. As the protégé to the famous
Fred Fixler, who worked directly under the legendary Frank Reilly, Mark
Westermoe gained unrivaled knowledge of the Reilly method for drawing the head, upon
which he founded an illustrious career in Hollywood movie poster design. He
later founded Associates in Art in Southern California, a top school for illustrators
from which many alumni became the who's who in the fields of figurative art.
We hope that this series helps serve as part of his legacy. And we'll give you a
chance to see how the principles we've gone over, of light and
construction and abstraction, tonality, value control, and
some of these principles will apply to drawing anything. So good luck
in all that you're doing and I think this will strengthen you. I certainly hope
so. Thank you.
a technique, monochrome, by using
liquid pigment instead of dry pigment such as
charcoal or Conté or
pastel or wax pencil. And I'll be using
oil paint and the color I'm using
will be burnt umber. It has a little bit of life to it, it's
not totally dead like black
and it has a dark enough quality so that I can paint
the darkest darks using it too. I'll also supplement that
with some black so that at the end my
darkest darks can be punched in using the black paint. Although
I won't mingle it with the burnt umber during any of the other parts
of the demonstration. This is
sometimes called an under painting or, in Italian, a
And it's -
we find this in painters that are contemporary and also painters
like Rembrandt. If you look at some of his works you'll see areas
where he didn't even color over the underpainting, but he applied his pigment,
his colors, on top of it. Sometimes
while it was still wet and sometimes while it was dry. So
we're not gonna use white. You can do monochrome
studies using white and any dark color, but for this
we're just gonna use oil transparently. So I'm gonna cover the canvas
first using burnt umber and a mixture of linseed oil
with paint thinner, or mineral spirits.
Depending on the temperature inside your studio
or if you're not doing any temperature control
it could be hot and dry. If that's the case then you wanna have a ratio
of about one part linseed oil to three parts
mineral spirits. If, on the other hand, it's -
if it's a cold or damp climate
then you probably want to switch over to one part
of linseed oil and
four parts of the
mineral spirits. And so
we also use mineral spirits in a separate container. And in that we clean
our brushes. So we apply the paint using
linseed oil mixed with mineral spirits and then we clean
the brushes using just mineral spirits themselves. You can
use turpentine instead of the mineral spirits but it tends to
be a little bit gummy and it takes a toll on your paint brushes.
So that's why I tend to stick with just what we call paint thinner, or mineral
spirits. I've got a pallet.
It's a glass pallet with a gray
piece of pastel paper underneath it. And that's a middle gray, a
50 percent. It's not more black nor is it more white, it's
halfway between. That way when I put my color, or in this case,
just these burnt umber on top of it
I can gage the value of the paint that I'm
about to apply to the canvas. So
that's my preferred pallet. I also am gonna be using
t-shirt rags. You can see. That one of the most
important art supplies you've got. These are cotton t-shirt rags
and they absorb just the right amount of the pigment and I can use them
to go back into the field of burnt umber and rub out my lights.
As in the case here, we see the forehead is one big
light area and the collar is the lightest like. So when I'm looking at any
anything, whether I'm gonna be drawing with charcoal or whether I'm gonna be painting
I always - at the beginning I look at the area that's my lightest
light and my darkest dark. So the darkest dark is right
here. Under the brow. And the background can be equally
dark. The lightest light is the collar.
And so don't just consider the head itself but its background
and its clothing and any other
props that may be inside the picture frame that you're gonna paint.
To apply the paint I'm gonna use
a simple house painting brush. You can pick these up at the hardware store.
This is a little bit narrow. I usually suggest
about a 3 inch brush. The canvas is
a stretched canvas, but you can use a canvas board
or gesso. This is gesso, simple white, acrylic gesso
Or you can apply gesso using a brush similar to this
on top of a masonite board. And that creates a really good surface for
this process - and others too.
Yeah so here's my mixture of linseed with
the paint thinner. And then here
is my paint thinner by itself, for cleaning the
brushes. Q tips can be handy too
for - I might be working on some smaller areas
of detail where these are simpler than a brush. And with a Q
tip, you can apply more pressure than you can with a brush.
So that's nice. I'm gonna mostly use soft
synthetic filbert brushes. Filbert brush
has a rounded, beveled edge at the outside as opposed to
a flat, which is straight. I'm also gonna use
again, synthetic soft, round
brushes. Like this. This
brush, when wet with paint, will come to a nice, fine point and it'll
be necessary for areas of smaller detail. So in this case
this is a stretched canvas, it came straight from the store, it's gessoed
properly, that is to say that is enough gesso, enough prime - sometimes you'll buy
these canvases, a different brand, and it won't have enough
primer, or gesso. So then you may have to then just
gesso your own surface on top of such a canvas. But this
one's nice, it has a nice bounce. And I like that bounce. See
I've already messed it up. I like that bounce. You
can't get that with a canvas board but you can certainly do a lot of really good
work with those too and they're cheap. So let me start then
by applying some of the linseed mix -
the linseed mixed with the mineral spirits.
And I'm just gonna cover the
whole canvas. If you've done watercolor, you're probably familiar
with painting wet on wet. In other words, you're gonna...
Get these out of here.
You're gonna coat your watercolor board and then on top
of it you can paint with wet pigment.
And you'll tend to blend together and simplify.
Okay. Then, using one of your
t-shirt rags you can just dry the brush.
So right now this is
a wet surface and I'm gonna apply to it
the pigment. The pigment that I'll be using
here is simply burnt umber.
I'll wet my filbert brush
you'll see what happens with the paint.
I don't think I'll do a vignette today
I'll paint out to the edges of the canvas.
Even though it smears and it's wet,
it still fairly well holds its shape, as you can see
when I apply the pigment.
you can't really do this on a raw sheet of paper.
It will not - eventually
the oil in the paint and the medium
would destroy the paper itself.
But here the canvas is sealed. In this case with
You can do a drawing on the
canvas first. And when you're satisfied with it,
and you've kept it light enough, then
at that point you can put floetrol.
And that is essentially the same thing that they sell at art stores.
They call it matte medium. It's cheaper if you go to
a paint department at a good hardware store and ask for floetrol.
House painters use it to mix with latex paint.
And so it's acrylic and it
will go down on top of your canvas and it goes down
purely transparently. So you can see your pencil or your
charcoal line drawing, wax pencil, underneath.
And once the floetrol has been spread over it,
and with a hair dryer you can dry that very quickly,
well once that's been done then the surface of your, whatever canvas
you're using will have been sealed. And yet
when it's dry you can work right on it and you can see your drawing
coming through. If I'm doing
an illustration, for instance, with its deadline
and I really want to make sure everything is exactly
placed where my drawing was originally designed
in a case like that then I might do
a - in fact I probably would - do a pencil or a wax pencil
drawing underneath and then I would fix it using floetrol.
First thing I would do actually, I would take spray
fixative. I would spray the drawing and then I would apply the floetrol
over that. Each one having to be dry as you go.
Here I'm not gonna do that. I'm just gonna paint from
scratch with no drawing, relying on
drawing with the brush. You know, when you're
working with something like
Conté or charcoal or wax
pencil, you're basically doing - if you're working tonally -
you're doing a monochrome painting.
Except it won't be wet. When you're working with paint
think of it as a monochrome
drawing with a brush. Now at this point
notice I'm taking one of the t-shirt rags
and I'm just evening
everything out. See you have to have several t-shirt rags because you go through them.
This should also
take away the glare, which necessarily
we get at the first layer.
And that'll help you as you start the drawing.
Which is to say the painting.
So I've done one t-shirt rag, now
I switch over to the next.
I save that t-shirt rag. When it dries I can use it for all kinds of
things later. But for now, this is all I need. And I
do it very lightly, you see my fingers through the tissue
and then just like this.
Now this doesn't have to be perfectly, airbrush
smooth. But it should present
a uniform, smooth surface.
is certainly still dry.
You know, it'll stay dry for your entire session.
And, we also know that
you can work
into it while it's wet, but if it dries than you cannot. You can only go dark
on top. So you want to get the areas that are the lightest
and get those in first.
perfectly smooth, background. We don't have to go so far as that.
I can do two things. I can draw the darks.
We can certainly see clearly, most of the drawing is
dark. There's a strong light and dark shadow pattern.
It's form lighting coming from the upper left of the
composition. So I can use
paint brushes with burnt umber to paint the darks
and I can use
t-shirt rags like this
to pull out the lights, like
we're subtracting and adding to the background value. But for the most
part, since I want to establish the drawing quite clearly at this stage, I'm now
gunna switch over to smaller brushes
and or rounds. Mostly
filberts at this point and do some of the
drawing using the burnt umber. The burnt umber
is placed on the pallet in a pile right out of the tube.
And then, when it's mixed with the medium, as I just demonstrated,
it becomes kind of a slurry of a medium plus
pigment. We don't want that now. So I'm gonna take
the part of that paint pile that is right out of the tube
and maybe just a little bit - to make it move better -
of the mixture that we started with. Linseed and
mineral spirits. I'm also,
I'm also gonna use a tool called a mahl stick.
M-A-H-L stick. And this
is something that we can use to make our strokes much more precise
to keep our hand off of the wet surface, which is nice,
and if you haven't seen or
used one before, think Norman Rockwell. If you see a picture
of Norman Rockwell working in his studio, he's always
got two props. They're not props that are being used
for real, but one of them is a pipe
and the other is a mahl stick.
You can't really see Norman Rockwell without both of those.
So, you get the point how
a painter can benefit by using a mahl stick. Now
if you want a real loose approach, or
a very strong alla prima approach, that's fine too.
when we think about Normal Rockwell we
obviously think about highly finished paintings.
And I'm gonna try and demonstrate an underpainting for such.
Norman Rockwell always used an imprimatura.
And he would do a very tight monochrome painting
using the same tools I'm using
here today. And on top of that
he would typically - well it had to be dry - but then he would shellac it.
with clear shellac. And having done that
he could paint
right on top of it with color. And if didn't like what he was doing
he could just rub it off as the shellac
seals what he did.
So it was very simple really, but it was
carefully designed to do the type of work that he
was known for.
And imprimatura, burnt umber
rub out we sometimes call it.
it doesn't have to be just for the sake
of an underpainting, it could
be a finished painting in and of itself.
In fact, later in his career Rockwell did
some famous paintings that were purely underpaintings
but were taken to a finish. One of them is his
very powerful painting Murder in Mississippi
in which the victims are seen
in the headlights of a car at night.
If it's used for a finish it doesn't tend to have -
tends to work very well with
dark overall value scheme.
As opposed to light and sunny.
But as an underpainting it can be
used for that too. So
it's better than for low key subjects than for
low key. A low key subject would be typically a Rembrandt.
A high key subject, let's say Monet.
And those are the two basic
compositions that we got. And within them we
dark on light and light on dark compositions.
Our subject today is dark on light.
This is not a very good
reproduction. It's a pretty well known photograph
but it's -
it's not particularly high resolution. What that means is
we're required even more than always
to call upon our
knowledge of the structure of the head and
in my case I use Frank Reilly's anatomy, or
rhythmical anatomy, his abstraction,
to go with the study I've done of the
anatomy of the head.
For instance, this whole area, there's a lot of little, small light shapes
and dark shapes. But if you really look at the whole thing, and squint at
the photo to simplify it, it is not
much more complicated than this.
squint at your subject to simplify things.
This paint stays relatively
fluid, after my initial application,
but after a time, probably
about 45 minutes in our case,
the paint will start to sit up. it'll start
to become a little stiffer. And there's a sweet time
at about 45 minutes where you can do some of your best work.
At this stage we just
accept the fact that it's gonna be a little bit
Not sloppy in the way I'm drawing it, but sloppy in just the way the paint
handles. But don't let that distract you
because it is - the pigment is evaporating. The medium is
as they do it becomes easier to be more precise.
And I'm really just following the light and dark pattern.
If I paint those shapes
as they present themselves
then 90 percent of the job is done.
head is looking directly at us.
Or facing directly at us. And the
whole head is at eye level. So that
means that the ear is the same height as the
nose. It would be if it weren't for the fact that his nose is very
big. And we get a little bit of distortion too from the
length of lens that they used.
Yeah try this, it's everything we've been studying
in our lessons on light and then in our
arrangement of values and our simplification
of the value scheme. All of it leads to
this, which is painting.
You don't have to paint, but if you want to,
those are the tools that we use to take us there.
Let me see. Let me
look for any major adjustments now at this stage.
Don't put too much pressure because you can see how just a little bit
will rub this thing almost back to the white of the canvas.
In fact, if I put
just a little bit of medium on this -
see here at the very edge of my finger.
You can see how
we can bleach that out and early on we establish our
You have your lightest light and you have your darkest dark, then you should be
able to paint the intermediate values
successfully. But if you try to go far with them and you
haven't even painted your lightest light or your darkest dark
you'll find that you've been just rearranging your deck chairs on the
Titanic. It's not gonna take you where you wanna go.
So I'm putting this in early in the painting.
Not later on. When I'm painting in color
will put in my brightest color, where I find it in the composition.
Because then I can key the intensity of my other colors to it.
It's kinda just establishing our borders.
Now, as I look
at this, here,
get a flair of hair coming out.
Plus here I'm gonna have to develop the forehead some more, it's a little bit small.
a fresh spot of t-shirt rag and I put my index
finger underneath it and it becomes almost like
modeling a sculpture in clay.
You can add, you can subtract.
draw the little shapes of the ear, just get the whole shape of the whole ear.
You can subdivide the ear later on.
You can also
work the edges. We've already studied
edges and how important they are in tonal drawing.
Don't start falling in love with one
section of the head. It's very easy to do.
But you wanna keep an overall approach to your subject.
So you'll literally see me skipping around from one part of the
head to the other. And it's the same
when I use color. If you fixate on one area
then the whole thing won't pull together.
It'll become just a
just a hodgepodge of many different small paintings.
Now, this head
of JP Morgan was included in one our earlier lessons
where we looked at Frank Reilly's abstraction
over a number of different, individual heads. Some painted,
And as I go, I'll make reference to
forms that we can see here.
Well right off the top, we see the muzzle here.
And that wraps
over the whole head. Obviously we find the chin mound
I'm just gonna let his head
disappear into the background on the shadow side. As it does
in the photograph and that it adds some mystery, a little more character.
Always interested in that, not just
a bland, academic study that's
the best you can say for it is that it's accurate.
So we wanna have something of the attitude of our subject.
I usually urge my students
to look for a trait, or an
adjective that they can find or apply to the model.
To the subject, to the theme. An adjective here
might be a - well he certainly appears
powerful and a little bit ruthless.
So as I work the expression of his
eye socket, the set of his mouth, and so on
I'll be doing it with that in mind.
Now, I'm gonna go back and use pigment more or less out of the
tube. And just paint
the background. Once I've done this
I'll definitely need to use the mahl stick.
Other wise my hand will become completely
enveloped in paint.
And I'm just gonna melt it right into
the shadow side of his head.
Here's one of the things that's nice about paint,
as opposed to say, a pencil, or
charcoal. With those mediums
you tend to draw from the inside
out and then your background is
what's left over. Here we can use
to paint from the background in. First, if
it's necessary to back corrections on mistakes
and then after that, for edges and
That's one of the things that you shouldn't wait forever.
Your painting is dependent on your drawing, that's true. But that doesn't
mean you have to spend a whole lifetime drawing before you paint.
Because there are some lessons, like that one, that
you can learn best by painting. And
lo and behold soon you'll begin to incorporate those things into your tonal drawing.
Even if it's just a flat,
If it's not it matters equally. Whatever it is
is essential part of your picture.
You can even leave part of the painting unfinished
That can have a very attractive feel to it too.
A bit like a sculpture that's made of stone.
The rough stone is kept as is
Notice that the paint is no longer as slippery as when I
first applied it.
a studio could produce a lot of work
as long as the apprentice understood the direction and
what the subject was or why
should somebody like Rubans paint all these simple
backgrounds when you can have somebody else do it?
This part's the easy part. Mapping
out where to paint those darks, that's the part
that takes the training.
I recommend -
I'll take it at some point, not too terribly long from now,
stepping back and looking at what you've done from about
ten feet away. You're too close to it otherwise.
And a painting or a drawing of this scale
which is approximately life size, maybe a tiny bit
bigger, you know you're gonna
wanna see the whole thing at one glance.
And you can't do that when you're this close to your canvas.
Sometimes I dip into the medium a little bit just to make the paint more
so that it
technique, this process
can be used in color too.
Bernie Fuchs -
Bernard Fuchs is one of America's greatest
illustrators ever. And he did a lot of
outdoor scenes and he painted using
transparent process like this. Almost identical
but he used it with transparent color.
And his paintings, well they were famous in
Sport's Illustrated, the glow of a baseball diamond or a golf course,
they would just radiate, they were so wonderful.
Because transparent color is actually brighter than opaque
color. As we see in watercolors for
And his paintings would be quite involved. Some,
mural size. So what he would do is he would
attach a gessoed
canvas to a wall and he would
paint up to a seam, in other words the edge of a building,
or a fence or a row of trees.
So once he had done that, then the next day
it would be dry and he could paint another section
of the same surface
without having unsightly seams
at every stage.
filbert or the - I should say - the synthetic brush -
some people use animal soft brushes
badger to - what's that one
that's most popular? Sable. And most expensive too.
I don't recommend that for beginners because it's just so, so expensive.
But they have a suppleness to them.
The way they apply the paint is sensitive.
I use hog bristle brushes also
but not for this process generally.
We used to do an exercise where we would take all the primary and
secondary colors and we would
bring them up in value to a
nine, where white is ten, and down in value
to a two - well actually to a one
where black is zero. Burnt umber
you'll see it has a little bit of color to it. Burnt umber -
if you were to do the same thing with the secondary color orange -
burnt umber would be orange at its darkest
So it has a little bit of a glow to it.
grade paints are very nice because they're less expensive but
you'll find in the case of burnt umber, some of them might be a little dull.
So look for something that's got
a little bit of life in it, even at its darker values.
That'll have to
sit up just a little bit while I work on the other areas. And later
I can finish that up nice and dark. By the way,
if I chose to, when I'm all done I could go over the burnt
umber dark background with black. if I really, really wanted
to get the full contrast.
Very soon I will put some black in in an area
for instance, the eyebrow, the underplane of the eyebrow, where it's quite dark.
And if I paint black in that region, then we're gonna find
our darkest value. We already have our
lightest but that would complete the story.
Okay, I'm gonna take a little break and when i come back we're gonna
start being more precise and we're gonna start modeling the forms
in the light on his head.
at a distance, looked at the painting and
at least three notes came to mind.
It's not that I forgot them, but I want to get to them
before I move on elsewhere. So anyway, these -
when I came back after looking at the painting during break at a distance
I noticed several areas that I hadn't forgotten but I want to get to them
before I move on to anything else. Number one, the nose needs to be wider
and particularly longer. That may cause adjustments to
the mouth and the chin. We'll see. Number two
the mustache, here, needs to come
down to the jowl. So I have only taken it
this far. These things are important so I'll move on that.
And number three, this tuft of hair is higher
on the forehead. I have it too low. That's not a major
point but nonetheless I will fix that. So let's start
with the mustache.
And we also see tangent to
it bordering it, is this
of the jowl.
We'll carve out the chin.
just above the underplane of the head.
Okay. For the nose and the tuft of hair, we're
gonna need to scrub that out.
So I'll take a relatively firm, but still soft
filbert brush and simply do this.
Paint is still wet enough that it
takes very easily to adjustments.
I'm stepping back
or leaning back in the chair to look at that and see
how it relates to the other shapes.
Seems alright so far.
As for the
bit of hair...
And take some of the half tone planes now
and using that same dry brush
go back in and even some of them out.
so they become now a little more legible.
Here's a small, round
brush and we'll draw the upper lip.
And beneath that
we'll cut out
his lower lip.
and let's make sure that it hasn't
or if it has that we correct any -
if it hasn't affected
the chin. There's the plane beneath the Orbicularis
Let's even this out.
Let's take a Q tip now for an item like this.
We're about that shape.
Lighten this area.
These are cotton swabs and
that's the type of Q tip that if you use them I'd like you to use.
This shape needs to
come out farther.
I'm determining that by lining it up with other areas in the painting that I've
already pretty much established.
let's go back in with any related darks now.
within each of these areas, which I have simplified,
mostly by squinting, I'm going to start to paint
the smaller shapes.
a lot of the adjustment of my shapes - the design of my shapes -
by triangulation. I know that
the outside of this mustache falls at the outside of his eyeball.
A little farther out.
So I look for those things. I wanna make
sure I'm as accurate as I can be with them.
Don't go too dark with the shadows in the
ear. I don't want to make the ear
the highest contrast in the head study.
It should not be the
Not usually at least. Just with
some of the residual paint that's on my brush,
I can come back in
Pick up some of the coloration of his hair.
Put some of the solution back on this
Q tip and bring the collar over.
drawing with a pencil right now I've got a round
well, a round brush is what they call a pointy
So it comes
to a point, just like your wax pencil or your graphite
pencil or what have you. And it feels just like drawing.
This will establish the lightest
light on his forehead.
Notice how this will
key the entire subject up in value.
Just using a t-shirt rag and the
pressure of my finger
to establish my half tones.
Whether they be somewhat darker or lighter than others,
that's how I get the value. Just by
pressing lightly or firmly.
Also, I can use
the tip of my fingernail to get underneath
the cloth -
push into small areas like that.
nothing wrong with fingerpainting if you've had the experience.
you were working like Bernie Fuchs with
color, you'd probably want to use a
latex glove. Some colors are very toxic
and you really don't want anything with cadmium,
for instance, to get into your bloodstream.
Any heavy metal.
Chromium, cobalt, cadmium.
But this is just earth, that's what it is. It's burnt umber
it originally came from the area in Italy known as Umbria.
Just as burnt or raw sienna came from Sienna.
That's why it's called an earth tone, because
it literally just is pretty much dirt with
a vehicle and a binder to turn it into paint.
Even here it's not suggested that
you get it into your finger, but
But those other paints, they are very toxic
So here's the
underplane of the eye socket.
Or of the brow.
overlaps the cheek, it has a firm edge, here. Not
a hard edge but a firm edge. The same
thing here with the eyebrow. Notice how it
dips under the frontal prominence here.
inside angle here
of the eye socket is up against
the nasal bone. Here we see the zygoma
and once more
let's restate the muzzle as it goes around the head.
It's mostly in shadow on this side.
It comes up against the tooth cylinder
Behind the tooth cylinder,
or the muzzle I should say, we
will find the masseter.
muzzle actually sags, that's a consequence
And here's the front plane of the cheekbone.
And here's the turning under of the cheekbone or zygoma.
Let's check out what's happening at the temple.
The hair grows up against the
temple and up toward the top
of the cranium. A little lighter
than we may want it, but for now it's fine.
Now if I go in
and describe these forms with a Q tip
or a brush, they won't have quite that kind of
mushy, soft feeling to them. So I'll do that as well.
There's the brow ridge
And this half of the frontal prominence turns into
half tone before it becomes shadow.
Okay, let's go in now with some smaller
brushes and work the details of the facial features. And
the edges of the eye socket and the forms out of the
You'll need your mahl
So I can kinda soften up -
lighten an area, using that brush which still
has some of the medium on it. And then go back in
with a Q tip.
make sure the shape
is nice and clear.
aspect of the mustache is quite dark, so I'm just
taking a soft, filbert brush and deepening
Where else do we find such a dark value?
Never mind the highlight
in the eye. We'll come to that later.
Really tightening down the drawing
and focusing on my darkest darks.
before I try to do too
much subtle modeling in the half tones.
You'll notice again how the darks,
when put in place,
will tend to make the rest of the
Alright so now
let's go back to our Q tips.
And I'm trying to carve things out in planes.
I don't really want to soften everything and make it look airbrushed.
trying to give it a very plainer feeling.
Alright there's the
inside of the nasal bone.
Just a little bit
of pigment on the tip of this round brush.
Throughout the drawing or the painting
you always have to bear in mind
again, the angle of the light and the light source.
Here, as you can all see,
this is a classic case of form lighting. A
single source of light.
That's what allows us
to paint the shadows to simply all
in one dark value. Now if this
were rim light we would get clear definition of this
side of the head and not only his right side,
our left. But in
form lighting we have very little reflected light at all.
It's a dark background and pure and simple
and that's what we have.
Ambient lighting would not provide
a light and dark pattern as dramatic as this.
Form lighting is
perfect for our subject. It's
most descriptive in bringing out character
and his head is oozing with that.
we see it in every one of the features. The eye turning from left to right.
Same here, the nose, the chin.
is well named because it's the best at bringing out the form
of a three dimensional object such as the human head.
Most of my strokes going one direction
really can't just copy what you're seeing. A photograph itself
is not a good one so we have to use it as
a set of clues to paint
not just what we see but also what we know.
Now when we squint at the photograph we notice that this
region falls off
into a dark half tone. In fact, of you squint
enough it almost masses together with the shadows
So don't let it
get too light that it jumps out at you.
It should almost be what we call a second read.
When you have
an area of half tone
i.e. light and it's surrounded by dark
you should probably compensate
by painting it a little bit darker than you think it is.
Otherwise, by contract to its neighboring values, it can
tend to just jump out at you. Just drawing the big
effect for the sake of the small.
detail. It's not worth the trade off.
switched now, again, to a dry, soft
filbert. And I'm gonna use it to
model some of the subtle, but large, forms.
so you can see where the forehead starts to turn from light into
And there's that
tip of the index nail that allows me to create small
Just simplifying some of my areas of half tone value
Still drawing at the same time. Always
not just the features but the main structures of the head.
I see one or two adjustments that are needed. For instance, I need to raise the
eye a little bit on both sides. And it's good that you see this,
that adjustments can be made when needed. You don't have to
give up and wash your hands of the whole thing and start over. Not at all. So let's
start by doing that, and then we're gonna simplify what we've done.
lightening this plane, this bag under the eye here.
And then get the shape of the
And we're gonna go over it with a soft
Don't try to use a
paper towel in lieu of the t-shirt rag.
It really doesn't have a good substitute. You know
we use paper products on this and they just tend to
disintegrate and then leave residue
on the surface of the paintings. So it's just gonna really make a
mess. Try not to do that.
pop in our darkest dark, in other words
black. I do not want the black
to mingle with any area that is not perfectly dark
burnt umber already.
So I won't go over the edge of this light and dark shape.
Or of this dark shape into the light.
That would become not just one color, burnt umber,
but two colors. And it would be a messy and ugly
And this will give us,
as I mentioned earlier, our darkest
dark. And with paint nothing is
darker than black.
People ask a lot, what
constitutes a finished painting or drawing.
Well one of the things
that we associate with it
is a full range of values. So from your very lightest
light to your darkest dark. And here
that's what we're now getting.
Now if you're gonna use that brush again
you have to really scrub it and clean it in your mineral
spirits can, or jar.
Or what have you.
Here's a little innovation that I came up with
about 30 years ago.
And this is a kneaded eraser.
can only use it on areas of paint that are already quite thin.
It's not to be used where there's a paint
If there is it will
cause the fabric of the eraser
itself to melt.
Once you start using these Q tips they go by
really fast. So be prepared to use quite a few.
Don't just, if you're in a class or whatever, don't bring
half a dozen, you need to bring a box.
Even gesso can be useful.
Let's see. Why don't we try it.
Now gesso, this is liquitex acrylic
It can be thinned
Because after all, it is water based.
It's acrylic. And it can only go down
on top of other things.
If you were to use this on a wholesale
it would spoil the painting
because you can typically use -
That's what happens when your mahl stick slips, but that's fixable too.
Give that a moment
to dry. Okay back to the
gesso. But in a small section,
such as here, a highlight in the eye where
you really want a pinpoint of light
it works very well.
Yeah, so as I was saying
go right ahead and use it
use it on top of the oil.
But only in a limited space.
And when you're
drawing or painting a highlight
don't make it too large.
You should err on the side of a little bit too small, not too large.
Although in the case of this photograph
it is quite large. I'm gonna disregard that fact.
Okay. So you want to scrub that brush nice and
dry because if the gesso or any other acrylic paint
dries on a brush, it's not gonna come out.
By the way, while we're talking about
this, with oils
the way I clean my brushes at the end of a painting or a
painting session is simple. I
scrub them in clean mineral spirits
and I get as much of the paint out as
I can doing that. Then I go to the
sink and I have a bar of soap. Just bar of soap.
And I turn on the hot water
and I wet the brush in water
and then I scrub it back and
forth on the bar of soap until
when I run it under the water, the brush gives off
a clear water instead of any kind of murky
or colored water. When I've done that
I dry the brush just by rubbing it against a clean t-shirt
when I do that I'll just rub it against a clean t-shirt rag
and let them dry on the same t-shirt rag.
And then I'm careful when I put the brushes away, that I don't put
them into a container that forces the bristles of the brush
back to curl or curve. Because that can become permanent
shape for the brush when you don't want that, you want it to be straight.
It really makes a big difference to
clean your brushes and to clean them correctly and carefully. You'll save yourself a lot
of money over the years, over the months, over the weeks.
Alright so now let's go back in
and continue the process of simplifying this.
You know, you'd think
that in terms of taking things to a finish you would
be at the stage now where you add more and more detail. The truth
is, you're not adding more detail, what you're doing
is your correcting the detail, placing it
and then the opposite
You are simplifying it.
This bag under his eye has a harder edge at the bottom than at the top.
So I make sure I'm not reversing
that in the process of modeling it.
Sometimes the same brush, when pushed
harder or softer will lighten
That's if it's pushed harder. And when it's pushed
just a little bit, it can darken
the paint. Okay and that's one of the
attributes of these filbert brushes. They're very nice
very, very subtle tool.
Often times art stores carry several
different brands. Not just of filberts
but of other kinds of brushes as well.
So you want to
have a careful look at what they have on display.
You might find essentially the same brush
and the next rack it'll be $14.
That's true of
most of these mediums too. In several cases
it's best to buy them at hardware stores
Mineral spirits, or paint thinner,
are a good example.
Much cheaper to buy a large container of
paint thinner or mineral spirits than to
to buy a much smaller container at a much higher
price in an art store.
The Q tip,
same thing. Especially the Q tip. The pressure you place on the Q tip
will dictate the value of your half tone.
Black for the pupils and
Notice that the
mixture of paint thinner and linseed oil
which I use to create these buttons
So I'm just cleaning it up
pure burnt umber.
again pretty much simplifying things
and making any remaining
corrections that I might detect.
The head's a little too wide so I'm bringing
the ear up against it.
That's fine for now.
I have one last large
soft and I'm gonna use that now
to simplify, without
taking the guts out of, I hope, what I
And if you wanna simplify your background a little bit, get rid of some of
the earlier, brushier strokes, it's up to you. You could leave
it that way, or if you want to, like I've said,
simplify it, you can take this same brush and go
and do so.
This can be done at any time.
We talked about the egg effect earlier in this
set of lessons, and so we are looking for the
hottest spot on our subject, and it's right here in the cranium
in the orbit. Everything else falls off relative to it in value
Okay, if you wanna just have a look at the whole thing.
I don't mind brush strokes, I kinda like them
so I don't want everything to be too smooth. At the same time I don't want everything
to be too craggy and choppy. So I try to find
some kind of a mix that works well and
again, like I say, if you squint at the whole thing this should
be the hot spot and everything else should fall off. Which means this is just a tad too
light. So let's make that last adjustment.
Okay, it can always be taken further still but I try to do this
within about - around three hours. And
if you were doing this at home, you could sit at your
table or your easel and carry it further.
But it doesn't mean adding more detail. Remember, that's one of the lessons from today.
That means instead getting your relationships
ever more accurate. And be very critical of what you've done.
burnt umber, black, and a little bit of gesso at some
point. And the rest of it is Q tips and filberts
that are soft bristle, not hard bristle.
The same thing, all the principles would apply identically if you were drawing
with charcoal, wax pencil, Conté, pastel
There's no difference in the principles, just the sequence and
the process itself. So I hope you got something from this and
I hope you can see how I still in areas that were not
very clear, in a bad photograph, I was able to call upon
head structure and the
abstraction that I've demonstrated several times. Alright, so
try this at home, by all means, but don't neglect going back over your
other homework assignments and doing those because it's gonna take
more than one effort for each one of these. It's an ongoing process
and whether I'm illustrating or just painting for myself
or teaching you always learn
so good luck and carry on. Thanks for paying
me your attention and
I feel honored.
Alright, what I've done here is to try to tie
everything together, which is necessary to do a finish.
I didn't do a finish in color, I did it in monochrome.
And so as such, it's really no different in terms of its principles and not
much different in terms of its handling from using
a Conté or a charcoal pencil. Only difference is
that the pigment is fluid instead of dry.
The photo reference was not particularly good
but that's alright because it forced us to think and to call upon what
we've learned so far in class. I do want you to try this
and set aside as much time as you need. I
don't really care how long you spend on it.
But focus on getting the relationships between the shapes and the values and
the edges. Not so much on the details.
that's just the summation really and it forces us
to use all that we've been learning and need to continue studying.
This course has gone from
structure, that's basically the anatomy of the head,
and some of the neck including bones and muscles
and overlaying on top of that the skin
and the hair, etc. We've then gone
on to describe and demonstrate the usage
of Frank Reilly's abstraction of the head. Its
purpose is to relate the structural details
so that they don't become an anatomy text but they become a living
work of art with the rhythms emphasized.
And we also went over the
proportions of course. And then we went
over lighting. How the different kinds of lighting
bring out different results or effects
in our subject, whether it's ambient light,
form light, or rim light. And
we did examples of front, profile, and side view heads
for those too. Now when we bring this all
together, we have the necessary ground work
for doing finished drawings, finished paintings.
I really appreciate a beautiful sketch
or a study, which goes beyond a sketch.
Many times if they're really well done, as much as any finished drawing
or painting, in any case,
strive for this.
Your drawing should look good at every stage if you were to
step away then at that stage, even though you're gonna continue later,
the drawing should be nice. If you had a John Singer Sargent
drawing and it's not finished for any reason
you wouldn't just throw it away and say well it's not finished. You'd
hang it in the best gallery or museum that you could find. And they would be all
over you for it. So, really cultivate
this ambition, this goal
of having your work look really good from start to finish rather than
slap it together at first and then
try to make sense of it later. That's the wrong approach.
So the final is what
we've done in painting the head.
And like I said before, it calls together all of those
understandings that we haven't learned but we're studying
just as I'm studying them, I haven't learned them. And
so I'm very pleased you
took the time, the expense, and the attention to watch this
class and ideally do as much work as possible from it.
So to me, it's an honor. So good luck
in all that you're doing and some of these principals will apply to
drawing anything, whether it's still life, certainly a figure. I've never seen
somebody who draws the head really well who, if they choose to,
does not go on to draw the figure really well. But it's
not working very well if the figure is very good
but the head spoils the drawing. So again, carry on
and I think this will strengthen you. I certainly hope so. Thank
Reference Files (1)
Free to try
1. Lesson Overrview1m 16sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Materials and Laying in the Background14m 11s
3. Laying in the Main Facial Structure31m 5s
4. Adding Detail: Nose, Mustache & Eyes29m 24s
5. Refining the Darks27m 53s
6. Adjusting the Features34m 55s
7. Simplifying the Portrait19m 18s