Thursday, April 16, 2009

Masters Study... William Bouguereau... A Demonstration in the Technique of Glazing by Bernie Rosage Jr.

A Demonstration in the Technique of Glazing...

My favorite artist is John Singer Sargent... but... William Bouguereau runs a close second! The way he painted the human figure is remarkable... his palette colors superb... especially his rendering of skin tones. A lot can be learned from studying this great artist. This painting was a big challenge for me... not only in size at 30"x20" but in the technique of glazing. I briefly mentioned glazing in my Vermeer conversation... It is the layering of color... one on top of another... building up color per say to get the desired and final results. It is a slow process because one layer has to completely dry before another is added. When I finally finished this painting I had 50 hours time devoted to painting alone not counting planning, research, and drying time. It was worth it because it was a special Christmas gift for my wife, Tami, last year.
Adolphe-William Bouguereau (1825-1905)


The name of the painting is L'Amour et Psyche, enfants (Translated title: Cupid and Psyche as Children.) and it was painted in 1889.

L'Amour et Psyche, enfants Original.

Greek legends, Cupid and Psyche, share an interesting love story as written by Kara Ross...

"The story of Cupid and Psyche was one of Bouguereau’s favorite myths. He painted several works inspired from this legend, such as The Rapture of Psyche, Psyche and Cupid, and Psyche. The myth of Cupid and Phsyche first appears written in The Golden Ass of Lucius Apuleius in the 2nd century AD. In the story, Psyche is a beautiful princess of whom the goddess Venus is jealous. In her rage she orders her son cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a monster, but Cupid falls in love with her himself. After several trials Cupid and Psyche make their plea to the gods who turn Psyche into an immortal and allow them to be married in heaven (British Library). In this painting Bouguereau was inspired to paint the two lovers together as children. Demonstrating that fate its self had a hand in there meeting. They were born to be together. The subtle paint handling captures the children’s innocence and illustrates to the viewer that Cupid's original attraction to Psyche was not purely physical, but also platonic, for the innocence of childhood does not allow for anything else. You cannot have true love without also having a mutual trust and respect, and a relaxed and enduring companionship between lovers. Cupid and Psyche’s union then is not just physical: they are soul mates and compliment each other eternally."

On with the painting...

I plan to share some technical info plus show you various stages to help you better understand the technique of glazing.


Stage 1... Primed canvas (30"x20") with several coats of gessoe. Last coat included a paynes gray/ultramarine tint. Sketched in charcoal and fixed.


Stage 2... Blocked in background with paynes gray, ultramarine blue, and titanium white.


Stage 3... I let the background dry then began a grisaille (grayish) underpainting of the figures with ivory black and titanium white. The ivory black gives a slight blue cast which I thought would be appropriate for those great Bouguereau skin tones that have a hint of blue in them. I will be working on the grisaille for the next several updates... a slow process for me with the size of this one.





About 13 hours into it at this point...


Stage 4... Applied my first color glaze... a mixture of Flake White and Raw Sienna over the whole skin area. I am using Liquin as my mixing medium. Liquin is a thinning medium that also accelerates drying time for oils... approximately 24 hours drying time per layer with the Liquin. It is important that each layer be completely dry before applying the next.

My first application of color would be super thin, and I would apply color broadly to "tint" the grisaille underpainting, so that it actually takes on the appearance of a hand-tinted sepia photograph. I'd use, perhaps, one "flesh" hue, that I had carefully mixed, and spread it (scrub it) thinly over the entire flesh area. This layer is so thin that the grisaille underpainting shows through, leaving the tones of the grisaille more or less intact.


Stage 5... I have added a couple glazes over the entire skin area with a mix of burnt sienna/yellow ochre/cad red/titanium white. A layer of burnt umber was applied to the hair and ultra marine to the fabric. Finished the wings.


Stage 6... My last layer of glazing which consists of: Skin tones: yellow ochre, cad red, titanium white, ultramarine blue... Shadow areas: ultramarine blue, sap green, burnt umber, indian red. I work the various colors in (using Liquin as my mixing medium) using the under painting as a guide. Now I simply have to cover Cupid and Psyche in this slow manner (approx 23 hours into this one so far).
Close ups of knee at various stages mentioned to give you a better visual idea...








I basically kept working in this manner and with this palette until the subjects were complete. Notice the richness in various colors on the last close up... the glazing gives work a translucent appearance allowing many colors to show through. Once the skin tones were done... I finished the hair and the fabric in the same manner.

Some important tips about glazing by my dear friend and mentor Bill Martin...

The first "secret" is that glazing consists of full bodied paint applied.... thinly, with no brush strokes apparent.

The second "secret" is that as you approach the final layers, the paint is often applied more thickly and opaquely, especially in the lighter color tints and highlight areas.

The third "secret" is that building layer upon layer, in this thin manner, creates a depth that is quite believable, and continues to look better after each glaze.

The fourth "secret" is that you always know it's time to call an end when you can no longer step back from your painting and say, "Yeah! That really improved it!"

Have fun with your glazing!

Your friend in art, Bill.



The evolution of this painting...


The grand finale... my completed work....


"L'Amour et Psyche, enfants" Translated title: Cupid and Psyche as Children after William Bouguereau, 30"x20" Oil on Stretched Canvas, 2004.

The greatest part... Tami loved her Christmas present...


Thanks for dropping by...
Bernie


Originally posted 12/2005 on my Art Journal blog...

5 comments:

Sandra said...

Hi Bernie, I just wanted to say how wonderful i found your wip, i post on wc also, and their's not always a wip that shows such detailing as yours thankyou for sharing this.....and your painting is beautiful bty....

Sandra

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie Rosage Jr. said...

Anonymous... It's a demonstration in the technique of glazing... nowhere do I mention that Bouguereau used this technique.

"All any man can do... is add his fragment to the whole.
No man can be final... but he can record his progress...

What he leaves is so much for others to use as stones to step on, or stones to avoid.

After all, the goal is not making art... It is living life.
Those who live their lives will leave the stuff that is really art."

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Anonymous... I guess you could use my lesson as those "stones to avoid"... or maybe... you just enjoy casting stones.

Have a nice day!

Bernie

David Jones said...

I applaud the effort, especially given the number of hours, but the result looks like a couple of midgets rather than children. I could not do better or even as well, but that's what it looks like to me.

Sam said...

Thank you for sharing all the steps of your glazing exploration!! I always feel a little nervous sharing the finished results, let alone the process. I remind myself to get over it as that's the best way I've found to learn - creative people sharing process.
Your painting is beautiful. Thank you!!