The oil painting of a figure in Vintage ’67 (below) is indicative of my more recent style. When paint is applied more loosely, it seems more in line with the ideas of romanticism. To me, the tighter method feels more like realism. But of course, they’re not necessarily opposites; the divisions between impressionism, romanticism and realism can’t be measured on a linear scale, so who’s to say?
For the support of this painting, I used Claessens linen mounted on an aluminum panel using archival, heat-reversible glue. For mediums, I use Gamblin Galkyd, thinned with odorless mineral spirits. In the summer months, I’ll add small amounts of poppy oil to this mixture to keep the paints wet longer.
Vintage ’67 (2007; oil, 30×24)
Focus on the figure:
Working from life and using charcoal, I start drawing on a piece of neutral-toned paper focusing on the center of interest, the figure. I’ve already set up my scene in my studio and know the basic composition, so my main goal here is to capture the essential values and anatomy of the figure.
2. Color Study
This stage is pretty simple and fun. I don’t care about the detail at all. What I’m after here in my 10×8 color study is to see the fundamental values and colors of the painting as a whole. This helps me to see what works and what doesn’t.
3. Preliminary Drawing
On a warm-toned piece of linen I prepared days earlier, I start my preliminary drawing with vine charcoal and work from my original sketch, placing all of the elements according tot my basic desired composition.
4. Starting Painting
I want to get the most important parts in first so, using a direct method, I start painting the figure and the surrounding background. From this point, I simply work out from the centre of interest. I’ll return to areas that need a little tweaking later.
5. Edge Touch-Up
Each day that I work on the painting, depending on the area, different reference is necessary: either live sessions with the model or working from photographs that I’ve taken. Upon returning to a portion that I’ve already painted, I’ll first pull out any sunken areas with a small amount of medium. I’m then able to glaze, scumble and soften any edges as necessary until I’m satisfied with the finished product.
A lifelong resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, Bryce Cameron Liston is a member of the National Sculpture Society, the Oil Painters of America and the International Guild of Realism. His work has appeared in Strokes of Genius: The Best of Drawing (North Light Books, 2007), and he was recently commissioned to paint a series of larger-than-life historical and mythological paintings. One of several quotations that may be found on his website (www.listonart.com) is by Leonardo da Vinci: “The greatest tragedy in art is when theory outstrips performance.”
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