I thought I would share the slow, sometimes torturous way I go about building an image… I am not the quickest of people when it comes to either sketching or painting and with painting especially I love depth, so a quick light wash or two just won’t do for me (boy do I wish it would, I could get far more work done : D) Being self taught there is much I am still learning and methods I am developing in order to get the finished painting I want.
Right now I am working on a series based on the Green Man. I am going to do one for each of the major seasonal festivals.My first painting, the Holly King (Yule) has been available as a print of just the face, but I also have been working on a border, as it was initially designed to go in a frame, but needs to be more complete for any other use of the image. I have created one border already, this one has been designed so it can be rectangular or cropped to a square around the face:
This new look allows me to use the image for either cards or ACEO designs. The border was created on piece of watercolour board with the central area left fairly blank so I could insert the face digitally. I use watercolour board because it is so much easier than having either block gummed pads or loose sheets, for which I have neither the time or room. it is extremely tolerant of reworking in pencil, or in handling layers of acrylic. The only downside is the any reproduction of the work is limited to a flat bed scanner or a photograph, large scanners are costly and well profession photography again is not exactly cheap : ) For now though this method suits me.
So the starting point is a square piece of board on which I tentatively sketch a face with the characteristics I feel I want for the festival. Here for example is the pencil sketch for the Samhain Green Man:
His eyes aren’t quite right, but I am hoping to pick that up when I pen him in and paint him. He is leaf free at this point as I want to be sure all the details are there before I obscure them with suitable Samhain vegetation. The next stage is to reduce it to a penned outlined. For this I use a very fine permanent black pen, so I can freely paint over it with acrylic washes and still see the basic details. Here is the future Imbolc Green Man, still lacking his foliage, but this can now be penned in on top:
So next comes the foliage, but at this point I do not have one quite in that stage, I shall try and insert that at a later date.
Finally I am ready to paint. I apply several washes to get some depth, shadow and shape, then I add various facial textures. Washes are used to blend colours or to create different highlights. Here is my Oak King (summer solstice) to date:
Each of these images will then have to have suitable borders added. I may also design a multi-purpose border to keep a unified look.