Monochromatic Studies

October 20, 2014

140930_YoungBoyLeft: A monochromatic study using Burnt Sienna, Indanthrene Blue, and Titanium Schmincke Horadam Gouache. Working from an "antique" school photo. Study is about 2 x 4 inches on Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media paper (hardbound book from Strathmore). The whole 8.5 x 11 or so inch page is shown here.

While I've been doing a lot of loose and goofy looking portraits these days I've also been working on some tighter portraits as monochromatic gouache studies. 

I think I put it down to sometimes you "feel like a nut, sometimes you don't," candy slogan. (Mounds and Almond Joy bars.)

140930_YoungBoyCRLeft: Detail of the face so you can see some of the brushwork. I was working with a filbert and then at the very end a small round.

I have been trying to come up with a way to work on portraits in life drawing, something that focuses me on the values I see.

Here I worked from a 1.5 x 2.5 inch yearbook photo and played with going back and forth with the different values after first doing a very light pencil sketch with very little detail, i.e., circles where the eye and nose are to go, ear position, head height. I got a little elongated in the head, but I really like what I did with that collar.

Afterwards I tried this particular technique in life drawing and ended up starting on too dark a surface. I never reached the right values. Also scaling up to fill an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet really didn't work for me—it added too much time to both laying in an area of value and dealing with drying time before I could go on to the next area or layer. I see many more experiments with this in my future.

After over a year away from painting (I don't count the quick sketches I do with watercolor or gouache and a Niji waterbrush) I'm having an "interesting time" becoming accustomed to the right mix of water on my brush again.

    • Julana
    • October 20, 2014

    That is amazing.

  1. Reply

    This is great…and I am biased since I am doing a lot of monochromatic studies too! Simplifying the question by going for grays just allows for more focus! Really wonderful expression and sense of movement!

  2. Reply

    Ellen yes, I know you love monochromatic studies! I bet you’re working on some right now!

  3. Reply

    You got it ROZ: Don Colley is in town & we were able to sketch the CHARLOTTE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA in practice for the last 2 nights with faculty, students, and artists. Now when are you gonna go on the road too…and visit us down here? THERE IS THE CAROLINA RAPTOR CENTER you know! Them’s big birds! We need your brand of know-how!

  4. Reply

    Don Colley is an ART GOD and you are so lucky to have spent time sketching with him. And he is so gracious. I’m sure you all had a great time with him.

    Maybe someday I’ll get out there but he is an impossible act to follow.

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