November 16th, 2011

Sea dragon

Oil painting class night two

This is a quick summary of class. We started by going to the gallery in the Soane museum where Hogarth's "Rake's Progress" is kept, and were shown the paintings by flashlight (as it was dark). Our instructor focused on the characterization of the faces in his paintings (apparently Hogarth would sketch particularly funny faces on his thumbnail while he was out) and the use of skin tone and highlighting to create faces. Then we went back to the basement and were shown a variety of Hogarth characters to sketch. I chose this one:



then attempted to copy his technique (the classical one, apparently) of a green underpainting for the face with this:



which has been left to dry for a week now. (Last week we prepared the whole canvas with a wash of brown thinly diluted with turpentine, so technically I guess we will have worked on it for each of the five weeks.)

We then went and did some work with actually applying colors to a canvas, starting dark and going to light, trying to do a temple that was "a favorite of Hogarth's," the temple of Vesta at Tivoli. Getting it all in five layers was pretty much impossible for me - I have a hard time seeing the world in even shades like that. But we did learn things like that black was the most expensive color in Renaissance Venice, as creating a good black is done by dying a fabric in "all of the colors" - red and blue and brown and green. Thus, because it was expensive, black became fashionable (the first goths!). And it was found by analyzing a paint sample from Titian that he created his blacks in the same way - by layering on the colors.

Anyway, I'm finding this a great way to spend my Thursdays, although I doubt I'm learning a skill I'll have mastered to an extent that I care to continue it once the class is over - still, it's fun to give it a try and I am definitely learning.