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William Stout Painting Lesson #13

Menagerie – Close to Finish
Menagerie – Close to Finish

OK; we’re headin’ home.

Menagerie – Mammoth Detail
Menagerie – Mammoth Detail

I finally had a chance to correct the mammoth head, redrawing and repainting almost everything but the body of the trunk. His eyes were what bothered me the most. I added some nice aging, grime, scratches and other textures to the mammoth’s tusks and lost that top edge on his right tusk.

Matt expressed concern regarding the difficulty in seeing the giraffe against the T. rex, so I’m going to jump ahead and add another lesson here:

Menagerie – Ready to be Photographed
Menagerie – Ready to be Photographed

I’ve finished the last of the animals.

Menagerie – T. Rex and Giraffe Detail
Menagerie – T. Rex and Giraffe Detail

Instead of using values (darks and lights) to pop the giraffe from the T. rex, I decided to use color (as my old painting teacher and mentor Hal Kramer used to say, “For a change of form look for a change of value, a change of color — a change of some goddam thing!”). I made the shadows on the giraffe’s face a cool blue in contrast to the warm greens and browns of the T. rex. Conversely, I warmed up the giraffe’s mane with some reddish browns to make it stand out against the cool greens of the T. rex neck. The bold pattern of the giraffe’s spots help pop him, too. The giraffe head still doesn’t pop against the T. rex head with a read as clear as that of the rest of the critters. It stands out enough, though, that I’m not bothered enough to alter the giraffe’s relative visibility. Not everything has to read like a billboard; there should be some sense of discovery.

You can see that the T. rex’s facial scales are no longer transparently painted; they are now (for the most part) opaque. This is an important detail: I also made sure to vary the color and values of the scales to make them more realistic and to give them more interest. I worked on those teeth of his, too. I darkened them then gave them crisp highlights (something I learned from Frazetta) to make them more ivory-like. The change of temperature (from the warm greens of the T. rex‘s face to the cool greens of his neck) also makes the T. rex look larger, as the change makes your eyes feel like they’ve been on a journey.

Menagerie – Signature
Menagerie – Signature

The last step at this point in the process is signing the painting. I decided to make my signature fairly low in contrast. I figured there was enough stuff going on in this picture that viewers didn’t need the additional distraction of a bold signature. The “CAC” I include in my signature stands for the California Art Club. The CAC honored me by making me a Signature Member (I’m also on their Advisory Board and am the Managing Editor of their newsletter). Only Signature Members can sign their works with a “CAC” added to their signature.

The California Art Club is the oldest art organization west of the Mississippi. They actively promote representational and traditional (as opposed to abstract and non-traditional) art. I currently have two paintings on display in the CAC’s annual Gold Medal Exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

The final lesson is tomorrow: Digital Clean-up!

4 thoughts on “William Stout Painting Lesson #13

  1. Amazing work Bill!

  2. “For a change of form look for a change of value, a change of color — a change of some goddam thing!”
    LOL! Love it!

    Thanks so much for sharing how you took care of that issue. It reads much better now, especially in the close up.

    I find the studio pic is a lot cooler temperature wise than your photos. Which do you think is closer to the original?

  3. I think my snaps are a little closer. There’s a little too much K (black, as in CYMK) in the digital image. I’m having that corrected for the canvas prints. I guess that correction could be considered William Stout Painting Lesson #15…

  4. I don’t envy art photographers. It’s extremely hard getting that balance to work with variables in lighting etc.

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