Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Tip

This week's Friday Tip starts off a video series on painting a medium dapple grey. I'll be able to cover lots of the tip requests in this series, so fasten your seatbelts! Usually I would start off with a reference but I didn't have enough time to pick out what I wanted before making the video, so I put the shadings in the typical places. It doesn't much matter for the first basecoat anyway. With that out of the way, on to the recap!
  • I mix my greys by sight, usually using titanium white, metallic gold, and pearlescent white for the white mix, and ivory black, pearlescent black, and burnt umber for the black mix. Use the pearlescent and metallic colors sparingly (only up to 1/3 of the mix or so) or the paint will take too long to dry.
  • Try mixing a sample of the black and white shades together. Depending on whether you want a cool, neutral or warm grey, adjust the amount of burnt umber in the black mix. More brown will warm up the grey.
  • Add cobalt drier and mix thoroughly, then add blending and glazing medium to suit your tastes. I usually make my bays, chestnuts, etc, somewhat thin, and I leave my grey mixes thicker so that they are sharper looking. Be careful not to make starkly dappled greys too soft!
  • Notice the horse has a gesso basecoat over the primer. This helps the oil grab better and build up faster. However, it does often leave fine sand-like particles, so I avoid using gesso when I am planning on a solid color. Everything going on in a dapple grey - the grain, dapples, and constantly changing shades - completely disguises any little bits.
  • Start scrubbing white all over, excluding the back (so you have a good handhold for painting the belly) and legs (another handhold we'll finish off later). Scrub vigorously to spread the white out completely. You will still be able to see through the paint, that is fine.
  • Next, add some medium grey shadings and color patches. Just brush right over the white paint and blend as you go.
  • When the light grey is done, add in some black to the darkest areas. The medium grey shade can blend out some depending on the final desired color, but the black needs to be kept very confined. Keep the black roughly shaded so that it is variegated in tone.
  • With all of the colors blocked and crudely shaded in, go back over the entire paint job very lightly with a soft brush to smooth things out. This final step is not done for later coats, but for now it helps to keep things smooth.

And that's it for the basecoat! The basecoat is done and needs to be set aside for drying. Where I live that takes about a day or a little less for a dapple grey, but it will vary depending on location and how much drier is used. Next week we'll cover paint blocking and blending techniques in more detail.


Carol H. said...

Hey Melanie, do you only gesso your grey horses before painting? I was a little confused about that. Do you brush the gesso on?

This will be a really interesting series -- I love seeing how people paint their greys :-)

Mel Miller said...

Yes, I only gesso greys now. I got so sick of sanding off the little gesso particles I'd see halfway through painting solid horses! And yes, I just brush it on. No thinning - that just seems to make it want to slough off on me.

I think gessoing the greys may even be a little more beneficial than not for the overall look too. For whatever reason it seems to contribute to the "essence of greyness" - maybe because of its slight texture? :-)

Herecumztrubble0 said...

Hi Melanie!

You used oils, right? I'm pretty nervous to make the big leap into trying them... What size horse do you suggest? Are you going to go over dappling for next friday's tip?


Mel Miller said...

Hi Katie! Yes, these are oil paints. For starting out, it is probably easier to work on a larger horse just so you have more room to work with. It is a little harder to get the blending even on a Trad though - there are pros and cons to all sizes! Next week is not going to have any major dappling, but the following week will. As far as I'm thinking right now, there will actually be two weeks devoted to dappling. :-)

Hannah K. said...

Hi Melanie, I just wanted to thank you so much for these tutorials! They were an incredible help. I had tried my hand at oils before with limited success, but I'm just itching to try it again now that I see how to approach a project better. Thanks again, and I look forward to watching more of your tutorials in the future! :)
- Hannah

Fine Art of René said...

Hi Melanie these tutorials are incredible! Question: Are you spraying any sealant in-between coats or just applying straight on after the last has dried?
Thank you!