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« First Place Award for Still Life at the Art Renewal Center Salon | Main | "From the Cabinet" »

"The Cabinet" Prep Drawing and Open Grisaille Underpainting

"The Cabinet"
12 x 16 inches, oil on panel, work in progress

It feels so good to be working on one of my still lifes again! This is the "Open Grisaille" underpainting - essentially just Raw Umber and turp, an initial pass at roughing in the basic values. I tell my students that at this stage you just have to accept some ugliness, it's impossible to make this thin, brushy layer look pristine.

Some artists do this stage as a "wipe-out", where they tone the whole panel and then wipe away the highlights. I don't do this because I find it wipes away my drawing too much, and lacks a certain level of precision. This layer is painted very thin, and I tell my students to think of "kissing" the contours with the tip of the brush, to avoid a hard, unthinking swipe along those carefully-drawn contours.

12 x 16 inches, graphite on panel, preparatory drawing

I started the drawing on Mylar drawing vellum (I like a brand called "Dura-Lar" - be careful not to buy the clear acetate in the similar packaging though). Then I transferred the blocked-in drawing to the panel before refining it. I always do the last few hours of refining the drawing directly on the panel, to avoid that dead "traced" look. That way every contour has been drawn from life right on the panel. I use the Mylar stage of the drawing for blocking in proportions and finalizing the composition.

The contour drawing is hard to photograph because the final lines are so thin and light, so I had to tweak the photo quite a bit in Photoshop, which is why it looks somewhat "dirty".

Once the drawing is finished I seal the panel with a coat of Dammar with some turp mixed in. This protects the drawing from being wiped away, and also makes the panel less "thirsty". Now it's a perfect surface to paint on.

Teaching schedule:
I'm always adding new classes, open model sessions, workshops and demos to my Teaching Page!

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Reader Comments (5)

Sadie, beautiful beginnings. You started using the mylar during your Ecorche class with Andrew Ameral, right? Do you see any other influences from his class? It sounded pretty intense.

Hey one day I would love to take a workshop from you. Do you think you would ever consider doing one in So Cal? Maybe? If we asked real nice :-)

April 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Lynn Adams

Nice start here, Sadie! I love the surface of mylar myself -- great idea using it for the drawing/transfer. Looking forward to see the painting's future stages.

April 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJayme del Rosario

Thanks Jayme!

Michael I started using the mylar before Andy's class, but it works well for that application!

I'd love to do a workshop in SoCal!

April 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSadie J. Valeri

sooo intrigued and in love with this composition...dying to know where you are at with it?? have you finished? are you willing to post more progress shots? still "plucking" away at the feather stripes? just incredibly curious about this cabinet of curiosities!

May 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commentereri gergen halls

ugh...who is eri? ;)

May 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commentererin gergen halls
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