While browsing through some of Joe's old photos, I learned that his father, George James Gervais (Jarvis now) was in a barbershop quartet, and they sang at a spot called "the Cuckoo Club." I was instantly drawn to this photo of him, and wanted to paint this...:
His stance, the pipe tipped in his mouth, the hat, the bow tie, and the whole attitude: they were all appealing to me.
I suppose I feel as if I basically communicated the feel of this image, but as usual, I'm frustrated that I don't have an innate sense of where to place colors. For example, in this jacket and vest, I feel as if I wanted/needed to "push" some additional areas of color for variety and emphasis, but I sat here questioning exactly how I do that. (I know what I want to do, I just don't really know how to do it!) I tried to lay down an initial wash of different colors, but as I added things, I tended to stick with one bluish tone, so that is definitely the predominant tone at this point. That's fine, but I want to learn to "stretch" that.
I tried to apply some of what Ted Nuttall explained to us about backgrounds here. It's funny: in our workshop, Ted very casually suggested to us that "when you're nervous about the next step in your painting, take a break and work on something non-threatening, like the background." Right...I had to laugh--because backgrounds, for me, are always very stressful! I never know how to handle backgrounds.
Ted gave us a suggestion for how to address them, in his workshop, and I'm playing around with this: he said that if your image is pervasively warm colors, then think about building a cooler background as a complement. (Conversely, if your image is comprised of primarily cool colors, try going for a warm background.) He also described building that background by starting out with either a warm or cool color, and then adding a filmy layer of the opposite on the next layer. For example, here, since George Gervais had a lot of cooler blue in his jacket, I decided to paint a layer of raw sienna, a warmer yellow, in the background. Then, after that layer dried, I added a cerulean blue, (which is a cool blue, but definitely leaning towards warm.)
I am still nervous about backgrounds, and in this painting, I didn't go beyond this stage, but I could have gone back in and layered another filmy wash of a warm again, and a cool, etc, until it was a look that suited. I stopped here and will be more experimental as I get braver!
I'm honestly getting better about just saying, "who cares if it doesn't really resemble George, it's still an ok painting." Trust me, that's a big step for me!
"Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music." (--Ronald Reagan)
4 days ago