Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Work in Progress: The Block In

Work in Progress, painting by Jan Blencowe

About This Painting: Work in progress, the "block in" stage

Media: acrylic on linen
Size: 14 in X 11 in (35.6 cm X 27.9 cm)

Today we see the "block in"* stage, where the basic local colors* are loosely laid in over the imprimatura. I'm still using fairly large brushes, 6, 8 and 10 filberts and the cheap 1.5 in. bristle brush from the hardware store. The values of the local colors are guided by the tonal values of the underpainting. As you can see some of the warm underpainting is still showing through around the edges of the trees. The "block in" stage is aptly named as the shapes are rough and blocky without a lot of refinement going on but I am careful to be creating soft edges where needed. It's important ot look at your block in from a distance because then you will know whether the composition and values are working and if the color palette is basically harmonious. Anything that is amiss should be corrected in this stage before you get into refining and adding details. Notice that the darkest values are in the foreground and colors get cooler, less intense, and lighter as the go back in space. Vetical planes are darker than the ground plane and the water is slightly darker than the sky. Those value relationships are very basic to creating a believable landscape, regardless of where you take your color.

*blocking in - Laying down the initial statement of a picture by a broad indication of line, color, and tone. After blocking in, artists typically develop their compositions from general to particular by ever-increasingly refining shapes, colors, textures, etc., until an artwork is finished. from http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/Bj.html

*local color - The actual color of a form or object, uninfluenced by the effects of light or reflected color. For instance, a vase may be turquoise (the local color), but appear pale blue because of sunlight hitting it in certain places; dark blue because of areas in shadow; and many subtle color shades in certain areas because of reflected light from surrounding surfaces. from http://www.ndoylefineart.com/glossary.html

The relative lightness or darkness of a hue. Black is low value. White is a high value. from http://www.rexart.com/glossary.html

Tomorrow we begin refining with scumbling, glazing and working on edges. Stay tuned!

I'll list the colors on my palette for you: (I'm using a mid-tone gray palette paper to mix on which helps me better judge the value of each color mix)

Starting in the lower left and going counter clockwise

Titanium white

Transparent yellow


Yellow Ochre


olive green

forest green

napthol red light

transparent red oxide

ultramarine blue

quinacridone red violet

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