Portrait of Randall Orwig (brush drawing), Anthony Ryder, Oil on linen, 12x10, 2004

I work from dark to light, meaning that in any given painting session, and for any given form, I start with the darker part of the form and gradually paint up the value scale, across the form, toward the lighter part.

Normally, I begin by making a mixture on the palette that corresponds to the dark part of the form. I’ll call this mixture the ‘base’. I brush some of that into the painting in the appropriate place, then coming back to the palette, into the edge of this first, base mixture, I begin to mix the next value up, using some of the base as the main ingredient of the next mixture. This new mixture becomes the base for the next mixture up the value scale, etc.

A note on grounds:

In painting parlance the ‘ground’ is the primer, sometimes called gesso, applied to the panel or canvas on which we paint.  Painters work on a number of different grounds: traditional gesso (water-based, used on panels exclusively), oil grounds (lead and titanium-zinc are the two most common), half-oil (an emulsion of traditional gesso and oil), and acrylic (water-based polymer w/ titanium-zinc).  Over the years, I’ve worked on all these.  At the present time I mostly paint on double lead-primed linen canvas.

If you take a look the Form_Painting page on this site, you will notice that after doing the poster study I started on a white canvas.  I then do a charcoal drawing, followed by a color wash, and after that the final, opaque paint layer.

In painting on a toned ground, I skip the charcoal drawing and the underpainting.  Instead, I tone the ground with a neutral wash.  In the painting below, I used a dilute mixture of raw umber and ivory black, thinned in OMS (odorless mineral spirits).  I combine the raw umber and black to produce a warm grey.

Once the tone is dry (I prefer to tone the canvas a day or two before I start the painting), I draw out the composition in paint.  I find that Deep Ochre (Old Holland) works pretty well for the drawing.  I use small bristle filberts and acrylic rounds for this stage.  Drawing with a brush is different from drawing with charcoal or pencil.  It takes some getting used to, but once you are used to it, I think you will find that you like it very much.

Once the drawing is in, I go directly into the form painting.

© Anthony Ryder 2019