Payne's Grey Study # 2
8" x 6" watercolor
This week I am taking "No Color Water Color Portrait Painting - Taking Advantage of Paynes Gray," Sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society (SCVWS). David Lobenberg is an adjunct professor at Sacramento City College and a wonderful painter of expressive portraits. Here is David doing his demo on Sunday. For three and a half days, we worked just with Payne's Grey to learn value without the distraction of color. David uses unexpected vivid color and the paintings are very "loose" As I found out with Ted Nuttal, "loose" is not the result of flinging paint. David is very deliberate with his strokes and puts much thought into each one. I admire the way he moves the brush around in all directions to achieve variations in his marks.
David Lobenberg demo
A Lobenberg painting
Though David, a master at drawing, usually traces his subjects to save time, he wanted us to be able to draw and understand the underlying features of the human face.
When we did our studies, he had us use photos he supplied -- he uses students and friends as subjects. An important part of the process is understanding the consistency of your paint, which he likens to tea, milk, cream and butter. We would begin by creating the structure of the head with "tea." You are careful to leave the white of the paper and define the shadows. It's a little like Michelangelo's statement "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." He stressed the importance of letting that layers dry, otherwise you end up with a mess.
Payne's Grey Study
Layer 1 done in "tea"
8" x11" watercolor
Next we went in and used the other consistencies of paint to finish the painting. Again, patience to let the paint layers dry is key.
Paynes Grey Study #1
8" x 6" watercolor
On the afternoon of Day 4 David had us do a Payne's Grey study of our own photographed subject. You can, of course, guess that Bob is my subject. Here is the photo I am working from.
David says to photograph your subject outdoors in strong light, but Bob had to squint so much that I didn't like the photo. In the morning, I asked him to throw on a shirt and his Balmoral hat that goes with his kilt and posed him in next to our diningroom sliding doors. I didn't expect him to wear an undershirt, but found it rather charmingly quirky, so I am including it in my portrait. I have now done the tea stage, but I will save the studies and stages to show you when I complete the portrait.