Sunday, 4 December 2011

Cheer up Old Willie

Artist study kicking my ass... But I'll keep coming back for more.
'Old Willie - the Village Worthy, 1886' by James Guthrie - Oil, copied in Photoshop CS3.

I really appreciate the work of the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists. It was so disappointing that I missed the RA showing 2010/11, but the library has helped me out here.

Some rules I adhered to:
One brush, one layer, no colour picking, painted without zooming in, set to 'fit screen'.

Stopping as it's time to move on.

Critique for future reference:
  • Start with much larger brushstrokes, achieve that 'painted look' due to marks slowly leading towards refinement - the image is being 'painted, not drawn'.
  • Paint 'thicker'/more opaquely. Once I began to add darker/lighter details and highlights, I found my underpainting was not deep/rich enough in tone to allow for a strong contrast or completely obscure the background tone. This impacted depth and richness in the details, like in the tactile original.
  • Unify and simplify - it shouldn't be a 'struggle' to make a feature emerge - if approached correctly, it should resolve from large-small brushstrokes. Very important to avoid any 'questionable' mark making.

Look forward to more of these.


  1. Really nice work, Francis. I love the "rules". They are everything I DON'T do when painting in PS. I zoom in so much, change my brush size constantly, and work on so many layers. It looks great.
    How do you find working in PS? I've gotten more used to drawing straight into it, do you prefer it at all?

  2. Hey man, thanks a lot, sorry for the belated response.

    Mmm, it can help to set some rules, but especially for these studies. If my intent is to learn from traditional foundations in an oil piece, I need to limit any 'distractions', to focus on the most important elements. In my brief experience, I've found that zooming is ok, but the work done has to be 'balanced'. You can inevitably work detailed if you zoom in, and upon zooming out, everything else may unintentionally appear to be at a different level of depth/focus. I did change the brush size though, just not the tool. (Which may also be down to my inexperience/lack of practice :])

    I'm trying to get used to working in PS. It's quite new to me this year except for a couple of still lifes and I now have to use it a lot. It's very cool, and I'd like to streamline my process - hotkeys, and niggling out all the potential the program has, but always while aiming for 'good drawing/painting' principles. I don't draw straight into it atm, unless I'm laying in a painting. I enjoy the painting and it's probably just a case of more miles before it's just like changing from a pen to pencil.

    No replacement for a good ol' sketchbook :]