Sunday, 16 October 2011

Charles Reid at Crantock - Day Two

It was initially planned to paint outdoors at the National Trust property Trelice but the weather prevented this, very overcast with wind and light rain, so the schedule was changed to a day of Portraiture.

The subjects were three male non-painting partners David, Perry and Simon.

David - the First Subject

One of the first things Charles did was decide where the nose is in relation to the side of the face. He drew an outline first - very light. Starting with the nose as a triangle he then drew the head in different sections.

Initial light drawing.

Charles proceeded by making several dots for the lips stressing you shouldn't draw them at this stage. He went down and made a dot where the mouth is. He draws one thing and then uses this to find another concentrating all the time on getting it right. He stressed you shouldn't draw hard outlines. After the initial light  outline the drawing is created from the inside working outwards. As it develops you find things are changing so some erasing is necessary. He then took a break. Sometimes this comprised going outside and smoking his pipe prior to returning. This also gave the subjects a chance to relax. 

The final stages were completed stressing you must check the relationship of eyebrows and not  make a hard line. He also makes the point repeatedly that you should not draw from the imagination but study the subject carefully looking for shapes and shadow shapes.

For what it is worth I regard his best books on drawing and painting features and skin colours  to be first `The Natural Way to Paint', which I refer to constantly, and the latest `Watercolour Solutions'. There is also a good section on portraits in `Watercolour Secrets'. I repeatedly badgered him (and Judy) asking him to write a final portrait book as the original is over 30 years old, and although still good somewhat dated. He has moved on considerably since then.  

Painting commenced using Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna. A warm yellow was recommended and he said he hated to do an overall wash. See the light! My notes don't mention Cadmium Red  but Alazarin Crimson at this stage and Raw Sienna with either Cerulean or Cobalt Blue, the darker Cobalt for the eye shadow. Don't use blue in nostrils!

You should not fill in the eye just a small bit of the iris. The need to do negative shapes was stressed. The colours were Alazarin with blue using a No 8 brush. On some of the detail it may be a 4 or a 6. Charles also continually cleans his palette.

 Note there is no definite jaw line

By now the mix was Alazarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue and Raw Sienna. He switches around as the mood and requirements of the painting become apparent. Concentrate on shapes and then get a little more colour in. With the cheek take care that it is totally dry before going in. Small areas are overpainted with a semi dry brush. Here he tended to use some homogenous colour because of the subject. The corner of the eye must remain light. The hair followed and was a mixture of Burnt Umber and various blues. See the negative shapes. Also note the placement of spots of colour.

Getting there.

David - either Schut or Fabriano (not certain) approx.40 x 50 cm.

Not content with one Charles then did a second portrait quite different from the first. 


After a break drawing commenced.- not contouring but a single line. Charles said you don't have to be totally correct. Use dots to indicate correct placement of features. Don't draw the nose as a single object. The iris is not a marble and should not be drawn as such. What is most important is structure of face. You will note from the drawing - I suggest you click on it and enlarge - that he varies the pressure on the pencil with a sequence of Press, Lift, Stop. Each mark relates to the next. Nothing is done in isolation. He often squints at the subject. Took a break.

After the break Charles started painting using a red either Cadmium Red Light or Alazarin, Cobalt Blue and Raw Sienna. Where needed he softens up with an almost dry brush but stresses you shouldn't over soften and lose shape. One of the things he said was that some student paintings were too smooth or correct and he preferred them to be cruder. Be bolder in other words! Cadmium Red and Cobalt Blue were used for the darks. Again don't draw from the imagination which he says a lot of students do. Charles likes to take frequent breaks, one reason being to assess how the painting is working. If you paint a beard make sure it isn't hard edged. Silhouete the head with negative shapes. Brush strokes are important. His method is to place paint and then drag the brush to create shape, softening where necessary. 

Perry - Schut 40 x 50cm Not

Immediately after lunch the two original subjects plus Simon sat for the students in three separate groups.


I painted Simon above and will post the result later in a separate piece about my individual reaction and assessment of the course. This took up most of the afternoon and was followed at by a critique in which Charles first invites each student to comment on their painting, how they feel about it, what was difficult etc, etc. He then makes a few comments pointing out what he likes and where he sees things could have been better. Nothing very heavy. The light hearted comment `Tell us what you really think Charles' provoked laughter. 

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