Sunday, May 28, 2017

One Plane At A Time

 "Hope Floats", Oil on Linen, 16 x 20 inches

I have been learning a step by step approach to color painting at Grand Central Atelier that I used in creating my painting "Hope Floats".  This post outlines steps I used in the process of this painting.

I began the process by making a small simplified color study of the model and background.  In this color study I applied broad planes to describe the form and light effect.  For each plane I interpret its color based based on 3 aspects, Hue, Value and Intensity (Chroma).

Hue -  Includes colors that range from yellow, red, purple, blue and green.
Source: Wikipedia
Value- Lightness or darkness of a color.
Source: Wikipedia
Chroma - Intensity of a color from neutral to most intense.
Source: Wikipedia

More examples of how I adjust colors according to these three properties is described in a previous blog post I wrote here.

Color Study
I use the color study as a map for the organization of my final painting.  In my final painting process I work slowly on one form at a time and reference the larger organization of the color study to help me stay on track.  I use the colors of the planes in my color study to set up my palette.  I use a palette knife to mix piles of paint that match the large planes of color for a form on my color study.  The range of these colors can be viewed as stepping stones along a path of form.  I often match my mixtures to the color study by not only holding my palette knife up to the study but also by placing a dab of paint onto the study to see if it blends in.

Setting up the Palette

I refer to these mixtures on the palette by considering that if in the color study the large planes were the average of a given area then that color mixture on the palette is at least as light and chromatic as the average color.  Of course I will extend beyond that average mixture as I paint but having it on the palette helps me to stay organized.  Keeping this in mind I set up a string of color, seen in the middle, that links the stepping stones of my mixed piles of paint to create a range of intermediate values.  Below this middle string I use the same mixed colors and add a bit of Raw Umber to the string to neutralize the colors for the option of needing more neutral versions of a color while painting.  With these two strings and the tubed colors on my palette, which offer more opportunity to  adjust aspects of color, I have all the range on my palette needed while painting.  I use the space above my original string to adjust the colors from my premixed piles accordingly to changes I observe on the model.  I often make this area more red in hue and more intense in chroma.

Painting One Plane at a Time

I proceed by starting with the original string on my palette, in the middle, and adjust it as I observe the model.  Although I often stay a bit more red in hue and chromatic in color, for the most part the changes are not drastically different from the original string and I more or less go up and down the premixed original string as I paint the values of form.

To make the process of painting more manageable I approach each form by considering one plane at a time.  Often I first apply the color of the shadow in the shadow area of a form.  Then I begin modeling with the plane on a form that is most faced towards the direction of the light source.  So I start at the top of my premixed string and with each subsequent plane along the curve of form I work my way down the string towards the shadow color.  I consider how much each new plane should bend away from the previous plane to represent the specific curve of form on the model.  With each new plane that tips away from the light most facing area its value and color are adjusted in relation to how much it is tipped away from the light.  I consider the value, chroma and hue of each new plane as I apply them.  I place a priority in focus on value while adding new planes.  The pathway of planes generally continues to curve progressively darker and less intense in chroma until it reaches the shadow edge.

I repeat the same analysis of planes along a new pathway of form just below the previous pathway.  This process continues until I create as many pathways needed to reach the bottom of a form.

 Once the complete form is laid in I can reflect on the larger context of the form and can adjust individual planes that need to bend towards or away from the light, or that need to shift in hue or chroma.  I try to approach this stage of the painting carefully by determining the change that would best refine the form and adjust one plane at a time to move towards improvement.  Although I still struggle with controlling what to anticipate in how much my new decisions may alter the wet paint on the surface I have realized that I have more control over my intentions.  The more clear I can be about what needs to change in an area the closer my intentions are to the painted adjustment and using a system of organization on the palette has made controlling my intentions more manageable.  During this stage I often bend the original larger planes I used on the pathways into smaller planes to refine the curve of form.  But I have found that by focusing on one plane at at time I can focus more on the specificity of changes in color while turning form.

Thanks to the help from all my teachers at Grand Central Atelier who taught me so much about modeling form in value and color this year, Jacob Collins, Ted Minoff, Will St. John, Colleen Barry, Patrick Byrnes, Katie Engberg, Anthony Baus, Scott Waddell, Tony Curanaj, Brendan Johnston, Devin Cecil-Wishing and Justin Wood.


Renate said...

Wonderful, Arthur! As usual I find this takes so much patience and dedication....looking forward to your class again!

Arthur Haywood said...

Thanks for the kind words Renate. Have a great summer!

Khayla said...

Arthur I need to take a class and get some of your knowledge. You have a. patience in your craft that I dream of....I will buy something very soon

Arthur Haywood said...

Thanks for the kind words and your interest Khayla. I hope all is well with you. For any inquires about available works feel free to contact me at