Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Coastie Scene

          The beginning...paint the arms and see how it goes.

            I have to submit paintings that I had finished earlier in the year for the Coast Guard submission cutoff date that is quickly approaching. I had 4 pieces but I felt I should have done one more with mainly crew members in it. So, last week I started the painting below of crew members of the Stratton hanging a giant power cable across the back deck of the ship. This big black cable brings power from shore to the ship while it is tied to the dock. I think there were 3 or 4 of these pulled on board by the crew the day we arrived in port.
           I was going to paint this scene earlier but kept putting it off because I just don't have much experience with figures up close. I gave in and decided to try it. I figured I'd start with the arms first and if that went well I'd paint the heads next. No sense in wasting time painting in the background only to find the figures weren't going to work.
          The arms went well, better than I thought I could do. I drew in a light outline of the arms and then just painted in the rest working from just the values casued by the shadows, curvature of the arm and muscle mass. The hands were the toughest part only because they were smaller, the tiny fingers and really you just have the shadows between the fingers to seperate them to define the hand. I wish I had worked larger to give myself more room to work the hands better. I'll live with what they look like here. So, it was on to the heads next.
          The heads were tougher than the arms. Most of the head features are really just suggested features, the darks around the eyes, the pinkish tones of the cheeks etc. Basically I painted them the same way. I thought they looked workable so that was that....paint in the beackground and then go in a touch everything up to pull it together.
I painted the girl in mostly soft peachy tones but needed brighter highlights and made the mistake of using white...not good, makes the person seem as if they spent their life living in Antarctica....or they are dead! Later I came in and painted over with brighter pinks and flesh looking colors....remember, I'm working with 3 primaries ( UBlue, Aliz Crimson, Cad Yellow Med) and Cad Orange and homemade grey which was a mix of my leftover paint from the last painting. I also use titanium white but that's not a color....a limited palette.
 Finally the crew was finished enough to go after the background work. The white spots on the two crew members are for the life jackets. I painted in a ladder and a couple of white beams after this part but then called it a nite to let it dry up a bit. I'd continue in the morning.
Around noon the next day it was at this point. The girl looks pregnant! Had to make changes there.
The colors are too bright here so I greyed them down at the finish to get rid of that intense look on the blues of the uniforms. Also, had holiday company show up so I had to stop until I could continue on the next day. Pesky company! More company the next day too so I didn't get started until 10 pm and just worked on it till it was done at around 3am. The next day I just did some minor touch ups and called it finished!
This is the finish. I like the greyed down look of the uniforms here better. The CG uniforms are deep blue color and somehow they all look brand new! When I was in the Army are uniforms were OD (olive drab) Green but in various shades. Originally we were issued cotton fatigues and they were washed and starched eventually they looked almost white. Then the Army came out with permanent press fatigues and they kept their color all the time....the ones I still have look as new as they did back then. Varying the shades of blue is good...nothing worse than uniformity...unless you're in the Coast Guard....but we're painting here.


Anne Winthrop Cordin said...

Your approach to this was fascinating, I enjoyed seeing all the steps.Beautiful painting.

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Anne,
Thank you for your comments. Normally I start paintings with the sky and background first prefering to paint in the foreground last. I wasn't that sure how well the crew (figures) would work here so on this one they came first. I really should do more figure work so I'd have more faith in working with skin tones. I'm surprised they worked this well with my palette. Glad you liked the sosmewhat demo here Anne.