Sunday, December 27, 2009

Anatomy Lesson

"Anatomy Lesson" oil on linen, 8"x10". I picked up this copy of Gray's Anatomy probably thirty years ago, when I was obsessed with the work of Leonardo Da Vinci and I fancied that I too would memorize every vein and muscle of the body.(oh to be young and idealistic!). I think I got the fake skull around the same time. It has a really nice patina, thirty years of dust, and I used to cover it with ketchup and scare my kids on Halloween.
I decided to make a black and white poster study as well as a color one. I was looking at the painting demo that Doug Flynt has posted on his website. and it got me to thinking about how these poster studies can be more than just an investigation of the values and colors but also a chance to think about the direction that the piece is headed in. What should be emphasized, what should be left out, etc; One of the things that I really like about Doug's work is the way that he judiciously uses his shadows to tie his design together. You can see that he very often will downplay the effect of reflected light and ambient light if it will strenthen the overall composition and keep the focus on the light areas.
I was thinking about that when I made the b&w poster study. You can see how the cast shadow of the book and it's form shadow merge into one strong, abstract shape, which also links up with the dark background.In the color study I tried to keep that unity but I felt like I could push the shadows towards a little more variation without killing the overall effect. I also tried really hard to keep the logic of the value scheme.(I have to purchase or make a black mirror. One of my former instructors told me how to make one out of a cd case but I can't remember what he said.)
In the final painting I found it really hard to resist the jewel like reflected light that was splashing up into the shadow side of the book. I did underplay the wash of light, as in my studies, that was falling onto the table cloth, to keep the light ascending, step like towards my center of interest.(Mr. Bones) The jury is still out on whether or not this trade off has hurt the design. I'll take a fresh look after I oil it out and decide then. The rule of thumb is easy "whatever doesn't help your painting, hurts your painting", making yourself an objective observer is another story.

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