I started my next painting yesterday at Brushworks. This one is a plaster cast (taken, one assumes, from a statue of some kind) of one quarter of a face. It contains the eye, cheek, and eyebrow.
It’s really quite similar to doing a still life. The difference here is one of focus. In still life, you’re interested mostly in composition. There are also questions of color, shape harmony, negative space, etc.
Casts, on the other hand, are all about value. (insert Barenaked Ladies reference here) My own value scale is pretty tight, particularly in the mid tones. This means that I have a tendency not to make the steps in value in my paintings large enough, resulting in a flat-looking, boring image. Since the cast is white, all you have to worry about are the values as shadows proceed across the surface. This ability to focus will be very useful, I think.
Yesterday I did the initial charcoal drawing. Once again, I learned fun new things. My charcoal is way too soft and dark for initial underdrawing; vine charcoal is on my shopping list for the future. I have definitely gotten faster at the initial drawing. I’ve also gotten far more accurate. When I did my first sight-size drawing for the still life with vases, I had to redo almost every measurement by the time it was over. This time, I really only had one set of measurements that were off, and the most complicated part (the eye) was fine after the first try. I’m pretty proud of myself.
Next week, I should start putting paint on the canvas.