Traditional Figure Block-In

I try to teach an indirect method of painting to beginner and intermediate painters. Below is just a quick overview of the steps it takes to make a solid start to an indirect painting.
Step One: This first step almost completely ignores the aspect of drawing which is really foundational to any successful painting. A thorough study of line, shape and contour must be made before attempting your first figure painting. Step one shows a transferred drawing that is very blocky made with simple straight lines with particular emphasis on shapes. This is then sealed with some sort of fixative and then an imprimatura (a thin layer of oil paint mixed with OMS applied over the surface) is applied.
Step Two: Depending on the absorbency of your support i.e. canvas, linen, board, the imprimatura will either stay wet for a very long time or dry rather quickly. So finding a material that works well for you and developing a relationship with that material is very important. Into this imprimatura you will start taking out the lights starting at the brightest points and working to the dimmer. It is very important in this stage that all shadows are left untouched.
Step Three: By the time you have finessed and modeled the lights, the imprimatura should be tacky enough to then start putting the shadows in with more of your imprimatura color that is purely from the tube and untouched by medium. In both stage two and stage three you must have a brush you apply paint with, a brush that you take paint out with, and a dry soft brush that you soften with.
Step Four: This stage really begins the glazing process but also what I consider the direct painting process. Every indirect painting has passages of direct painting and in this sense is a hybrid of both techniques. A medium glaze of the flesh color is applied over the lights and then both the darks and the lights are restated. They are restated because glazing usually lightens the darks and darkens the lights, thus reducing contrast.

In a future post we will consider further these techniques of direct and indirect painting. See you then.




  1. http://instagram.com/outsiderzone Reply
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  3. Chong Reply
    This is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate info… Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read post!

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