Friday, August 3, 2012

Oh My Gouache!

Sadly, I have no drawing posts for this week. I did manage to make one sketch, but I have decided to upload it with next week's batch for greater continuity. What you are looking at in the picture above is a mask I have been sculpting in preparation for a sculpting class that I am going to teach. My drawings have been less present lately due to my involvement in sculpting and painting on sculptures. Ceramics are great to work with if you like to get messy, which I do. I felt driven having to sculpt under a time constraint with the clay drying right before my eyes. This does present issues like the clay cracking and a whole new set of skills to combat this, such as scoring and sliding and wetting your fingers--new concepts for me. On the other hand, there is just something lovely about working with clay at its various stages: super goopy, "leather hard", and solid, which you don't find with Sculpey. More of that to come next week!

Yes, you are looking at the Vulcan salute. I wanted some more gouache practice, so I decided to do a hand. A hand in the Vulcan salute pose. Because I can.

It looks confusing at first, but in my picture, there are two separate hand studies where I explored two different rendering techniques. On the left is a semi-realistic approach, which called for creating a more detailed under-drawing. I spent more time than usual on the shading in hopes that I would be able to lay down the paint freely and accurately. This worked to a certain extent. With gouache, you have to build up a couple transparent washes before laying down heavier paint, which made it difficult to see the drawing. In the picture of the second wash, you will see some of the paint that I lifted in preparation for the lighter areas of the hand. This step was completely unnecessary as I could lay down light-colored opaque paint on top of the wash and it would be just as visible (3rd picture of grey wash). From there, I put down thick paint without blending. Once I had an area that had a full-range of values, I "blended" them very gently with a moist brush.

The hand on the right is more of an experiment with a rendering technique I am unfamiliar with. I painted a couple washes of light orange and then blended in to it some pinkish color. After the paint dried, I inked lines over it in pen, having to place the lines with few reference points as the opacity of the paint made my preliminary pencil work disappear. Next, I penciled in highlights with white charcoal pencil. This was fun, but it did not excite me quite as much as...

...this! I have been waiting for a while to combine traditional and digital media. I have seen it done  before and thought gouache would work well for the experiment. One big challenge with gouache is blending and mixing its vibrant colors. I thought, "But what if I work monochromatically and add color in Photoshop? That way, I can render my painting to my heart's content and have the flexibility to tweak the colors without having to re-paint!". Sure, it's not perfect. You get some grey in the mid to dark tonal range, but it's nothing that can't be fixed with practice. Let us look at it standing alone in all of its glory:

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