Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Painting One Area at a Time

My readings in the How To Paint genre usually advise that a painting should be worked up as a whole rather than completed area by area. The concept is that balance can be maintained regarding colors and values (degree of dark-light).

This seems to make sense, but not all artists follow the advice, portrait painters in particular. I suppose that they think it's best to make sure that a likeness is captured. Once that is accomplished, then the remainder of the painting can be completed. The alternative would be to risk spending too much time on an overall workup and then failing to achieve the likeness.

Here are some examples of development by area.


Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson - Napoleon

Sir Thomas Lawrence - unfinished portrait

George Romney - unfinished portrait

Nancy Guzik at an early stage of painting a portrait

Boris Vallejo - illustration in progress
Vellejo is a well-known fantasy - science fiction illustrator. I'm not sure about his present practices, but 30 years ago when the above image was created, he would paint from background to foreground. The main subjects would be painted by section in a systematic manner.

Mel Ramos - Unfinished Painting #5 - 1992
Ramos usually likes to have a little fun. In the early 90s he made a series of paintings titled "Unfinished Painting" wherein outlines and a little shading were introduced to create an mostly monochrome image that was supplemented around the subject's face by a full-color treatment.


Augustin Tougas said...

May I point out two other reasons beside risking spending to much time on an overall workup.

Firstly, the subject can be relieved from posing after the facial features are completed. Other elements can be executed without spending to much time its time (especially when it's the Emperor of France). Sometimes, it is simply for the comfort of the model.

Another reason that could be evoked is that some painters were dealing with assistants. Meaning that the Master only painted the face, leaving the rest to its pupils.

By the way - always nice reading you, Mr. Pittenger. Thank you very much.

Donald Pittenger said...

Augustin -- Valid points. Now all we have to do is figure out why Vallejo and some other illustrators prefer area-by-area.