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Underpainting from a photo using Kristy Gordon's method

I'm working with a 12" x 16" canvas and I've gessoed it a few times then toned it with acrylic yellow ochre, black and gesso to get a gray-green base as Kristy recommends. It is much nicer than working on bright white. To make it a bit easier on myself, I printed my photo the same size as the canvas and put it right beside my workspace.

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Next, I blocked in the general shape using burnt umber thinned with the Walnut Oil Alkyd. I made a few dots to start at the outer edges of the general shape to keep my lines on the canvas as I started painting.

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I tried to keep with the angled straight lines, I am very tempted to make curves, but I understand the angled straight lines make a much better structure for the painting! I marked in the nose, tops of the eyebrows and a line for the eyes.

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Next, I started adding features. I first made a shape for the bottom of the nose and shadow. I marked the line for the lips, transferring the angle of the mouth line with my knitting needle as a guide, as Kristy suggested. I also really like this technique to get the angle measurements correct. I shaded in the top lip lightly, trying to keep the centre line matching the nose and just put the shadow to define the lower lip. I began adding the three angled straight lines that make up the eye and eyelid, as well as the angles for the bridge of the nose.

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I started putting in some shadow shapes along the side of the nose and under the chin/on the neck. When I got to adding in the shadow I realized the shadows are not as defined in this photo as in Kristy's reference. I think it will be okay, I tried to keep them lighter as they are not very dark shadows. I added some definition in the hair as well as the general shape for the irises. Finally, I put in the band at the top of the shirt.

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The next one is a big jump, I forgot to take more photos along the way! I refined the features more, adding in the nostril, defining the mouth and eyes as well as filling in the shirt to get some contrast. I made the edge of the face a little less angled, but still tried to avoid making too many curves to keep the structure. I've filled in some of the hair more and darkened some of the shadows in the neck.

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I think this underpainting is a good start and I am excited for the next class and adding colour!

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