“As an artist my career is dedicated to the integrity and quality of representational fine art.”, says Bryce Cameron Liston. “My goal is to regain the traditions of the past along with the standards of craftsmanship and training. By studying the great artists of the past, we artists of today can once again regain a full command of proficiency to create great works of art…art about life.”
Bryce Cameron Liston
Essence of Lavender
oil on linen
30 X 24 in.
Available at the M Gallery of Fine Art
Palette colors: Titanium/zinc white, cadmium yellow light, cadmium yellow deep, cadmium red light, perylene red, quinacridone violet, ultramarine blue, Sevres blue, transparent oxide red, raw umber.
Step 1: For many of my paintings, particularly undraped figures, I will do a separate drawing that I can refer back to. But in this case I started the charcoal drawing directly on the white ground of the linen. After many changes of both placement and proportions I ended up with this drawing…it’s certainly nothing fancy. I start with the paint by applying color to the light side of the figure using a mixture of white, cad yellow lt., and perylene red, with a small amount of Sevres blue (Sevres blue is a Rembrandt color which is thalo blue and white). I want to keep the paint thin at this stage, so I use a generous amount of OMS to thin the mixtures.
Step 2: I continue to apply the basic flesh tones over most of the figure. I also mass in the general tones of the background, keeping them toward the warmer side and not pushing the values too far light or dark. As I work into the darker flesh tones I add some transparent earth red to the mixture. I’m paying particular attention to the grouping of the overall tones, trying to keep similar tones massed together, so at this stage I can get a feeling of where the painting is going.
Step 3: “Wow what was I thinking?!” was my first thought the next day. I was still happy with the figure but I felt that my background was too broken up and didn’t seem to make the best design. My tones weren’t as grouped as I had thought they were. I didn’t really want to scrape the panting down, but that little annoying voice kept telling me that I’d be sorry if I didn’t. With some trepidation, I went for it, scraping and wiping down most of the surface, fortunately the painting was still a little wet from the previous day, so the paint came off easily. I then proceeded to change the elements in the background, focusing on simplifying the design. With a few changes of furniture I was able to facilitate a simpler triangular design that focused more strongly on the figure. I then reestablished the figure along with the new changes in the background. The changes took most of day but it was definitely worth it.
Step 4: The next day I started working in earnest on the flesh tones. The figure is being lit with a cool north light, so I add Sevres blue and quinacridone violet to the basic mixture of yellow, red, and white, to give the flesh a cool tone on the light side. On the shadow side I keep my mixtures warmer by adding transparent red and cad. red light to the mixture. I’m not thinning the paint much. I enjoy putting the paint down thickly on the light side and a little thinner on the shadow side, that way there is more interest in the paint layers. As I apply the paint, I want to just put it down and not move it around too much. I will do some blending with my fingers.
Step 6: This is the finished painting. I know it made a big jump to this stage. I got so into the painting I forgot to shoot it along the way–sorry. This stage represents two days work, but really all I did was to continue to resolve the flesh tones and shapes and give the edges some variety. I work all around the painting, trying not to spend too much time on any one spot. At some point during these last days I decided to move the bedspread and reduce the white sheet. It helped to get the dark against her shadow side so that the values didn’t jump too much; it added a solid feeling to the left side of the painting.
Black & White illustration: I like to show my painting in black & white to illustrate the organization of the shapes and value masses. I used a lot of color in the painting, but look at it in black & white, it seems very tonal—I think it reads quite well.
Two value illustration: Now let’s look at it in two values. I used Photoshop to reduce the image down to two values only, notice the grouping of shapes. It makes for some abstract shapes (there is no face), but I feel it is well balanced.