Frosting the Cake

So many of us just stop working on a painting and call it "finished" - by giving up when we cannot think of anything else to do.

Of course it is hard to know when to quit and I've certainly  done my share of this.

Mother and Child
20" x 24" Oil on Linen

However I am "finishing"  a painting today and thought I'd show the process on a portion of the sleeve.

I've used a simple palette of just the particular area/color I am working on. Titanium White on the left and Raw Umber on the right. I use a small cheapie craft brush to mix the two and create a range of value with a small puddle of Liquin.

Above is the dry surface - I could declare it finished but I want to "beautify" it. Up close, the surface is "uneven, raw" and to my eye, does not "glow."

I start by matching the exact values of the shadows (I mix on the painting more often than not).

I use a scumble - that is, a little paint and more medium to make a "milky, see-through" mixture." I scumble this into the shadows to "flatten" them but not to repaint or completely cover. 

Sorry, I realize that it is so hard to see the flattened shadows in the pix above - it is very subtle and hard to photograph for you.

The next day when all is dry, I add the "frosting," i.e., the little surface details (fabric creases, highlights) that count. In painting, we often say, "God is in the details."

I generally define the small areas where light and shadow meet. I do NOT change the values nor do I put any light into shadows where they do not belong.  I am still working with translucent paint (the scumble).

After I have finished the sleeve, I repeat the process on the skin, hair and/or wherever I wish.

If you're not in a rush, you can repeat this entire process - adding another translucent layer on top of the last one after the surface is dry.

This is how to "beautify" your surface, make it glow and generally cause your painting to look more "painterly."

This is as far as I've gotten today. Tomorrow I will add another layer if I think it needs it. Generally, the more layers I do, the better it long as I don't use opaque paint.

This entire process only takes an hour or so... and since it is such a "piece of cake," I really do think of it as "frosting." 

You are NOT repainting the surface. You are only "enhancing & beautifying" it.

1 comment:

Len said...

Beautiful technique and results! Your portrait work is outstanding. Thank you for sharing.