Thursday, April 16, 2009

Masters Study... Nicolai Fechin... A demonstration on loose brushwork by Bernie Rosage Jr.

"An artist should work every day with what is at hand" ~ Nicolai Fechin
For 74 years, the artist Nicolai Fechin (1881-1955) carried in his mind's eye striking visual images of two disparate lands: his birthplace in Kazan, Russia and the American Southwest. Images from each country fueled his artistic gifts, so that a rich bounty of paintings, carvings, sculptures, and designs poured forth from his imagination.
"Fechin was known as the living old master ... an artist's artist. Others called him the Michaelangelo of our time.His talents in so many diverse disciplines was unique indeed --- a master of painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, woodcarving and ceramics.What his eyes saw and his hands touched, became a creative experience." ~ Mary N. Balcomb, Fechin's author.

Nicolai Fechin: Painter, Sculptor, Builder.

I just finished a couple of paintings that I plan to give as Christmas presents and will share with you after Christmas as not to give away any surprises! Right now I am working on a cover painting by this great artist titled "Eya". It is a painting Fechin did of his daughter in 1933. I will share the progress of my painting in stages as a WIP (Work In Progress).

"Eya"... Original by Fechin (1933)

After the death of Nicolai Fechin, his former wife and daughter (Eya) lived in the family home in Taos. In 1981, Eya Fechin Branham spearheaded the formation of the Fechin Institute, a non-profit, educational organization headquartered in the house. Following Eya’s death many years later, the house, studio and offices were sold to the Taos Art Museum.

For this painting I am using a wet in wet method. I simply am applying the paint without any medium onto a primed canvas. This method is nothing like the glazing demo I shared with my William Bouguereau cover where color is built up in stages. My goal is to loosen my brush strokes for a more painterly look. I chose to do a cropped version of Fechin's "Eya".

Stage 1... fixed vine charcoal sketch on canvas.

Stage 2... began to block in color.

Stage 3... began to add detail to her eyes.

Stage 4... blocked in color on hands and added more color to face.

Stage 5... Modeled color more on face and began hair.

Close up...

My palette for this painting: Titanium White, Ivory Black, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Sap Green, Alizarin Crimson, Indian Red, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Dioxazine Purple, and Naples Yellow.

Stage 6... started blocking in background color.

Stage 7... continued work on the background and thinned that chunky neck a bit..

Stage 8... worked on hair.

Stage 9... worked on Eya's blouse and refined background... and... FINISHED!

"Eya" after Fechin (cropped)... 14"x11" Oil on Stretched Canvas, 2005. Slavin's Gallery Award 2006 Onslow Art Society Spring Show.

I really enjoyed working in the style of this one... wet-in-wet, thick, and loose! This was an excellent master to help me loosen up my brush strokes and practice scumbling. I want to try this style with one of my family members. Completed this in three sessions with about six hours total painting time.
I think I am finally starting to loosen up...

My cover of Fechin’s “Eya”... from start to finish.

My palette for this painting: Titanium White, Ivory Black, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Sap Green, Alizarin Crimson, Indian Red, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Dioxazine Purple, and Naples Yellow.

First I made a simple vine charcoal sketch on primed canvas and spayed it with fixative to set it. Then I basically started painting from the center (face) out with the exception of doing the hands. I began by blocking in the colors of the face and neck. My skin tone palette consisted of two different mixtures of three tones: 1) Burnt sienna mixed with titanium white...2) Yellow ochre mixed with titanium white. The burnt sienna/white was used more in the redder fleshy areas like the cheeks and the ochre/white was used more on the flat thin areas like the forehead. I made various tones of these two mixtures adding a tad of cad red into the rosy/blood areas and a tad cad yellow on the forehead. My shadows consisted of various mixtures of alizarin crimson, sap green, and a little ultramarine blue. In the warmer shadows I let the alizarin dominate and in the cooler areas I used the sap green and ultramarine. The lips where mostly Indian red with some alizarin. The whites of the eyes consisted of titanium white mixed into one of my flesh color mixtures... the whites of the eyes are never pure white. Working from the center out I blocked some strong under colors to emulate the shapes of the masses then I began to detail the eyes and work out from there... finishing those areas and moving on to the next. Following Fechin’s style... The face (particularly the eyes) is the most detailed/refined area of the entire painting... everything else is carefree and expressive. With that in mind I simply did the hands by observing and painting the shapes of color I saw. The same can be said for the background and Eya’s blouse. The hands consisted mostly of my skin tone mixtures and sap green, burnt sienna, Indian red, cad red, cad yellow, white, yellow ochre and alizarin crimson. Eya’s hair consisted mostly of burnt and raw umber, gray (ivory black/titanium white mix), burnt sienna, ivory black, and Naples yellow. For Eya’s blouse... you can really see the wide array of color used plus the thick bold strokes of paint. If you look at some of my progression pictures you will notice that I wiped excess paint from my brush any where on the canvas... this made some neat under tones when I painted the background in. For the background... mostly gray... I used ivory black, white, yellow ochre, sap green, alizarin, and dioxazine purple. I varied my stroke directions and scumbled (dragging dry paint over areas allowing the color underneath to show through) colors in areas. I really enjoyed this method. I worked totally wet-in-wet with no mediums. I used a big #10 flat bristle brush for most of the background. A #4 flat synthetic sable was used for most of the work along with some small flat hog bristle brushes for texture and a small flat for detail work. I painted the piece (11"x14") in three sessions with approximately six total painting hours involved.

As always... your comments are desired and appreciated... Thanks for looking...
Originally posted 12/2005 on my Art Journal blog...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is amazing! great work.