September 19, 2014

Nobody Could Be That Clever



Ever since I mastered portraits (the secret is in the accuracy of the initial drawing), I have been looking for subjects to work from. I don’t get a lot of portrait commissions yet but that’s ok because there are a lot of people I want to paint.

I am in love with the BBC and their casting choices. Unlike Hollywood and the quest for the perfect male or female, they go for character. Interesting faces outside of the norm we’d call beauty. But that’s great because those people are the most interesting to paint.

I’ve talked and painted about Sherlock before. The show’s writing at times is horrifyingly awful or cheesy. It took me several episodes to really get into it. And so I thought I would paint the exact moment Sherlock went from background noise to holy crap! At least for me. The scene from the roof. The Reichenbach Fall.

The design of a show or movie makes all the difference. From music to set the tone to lighting to saturation of colour. It all matters. Sherlock is under saturated and leaning towards the blue range. I love, love, love that look. And working with a limited palette is joy.


I started with mars black, a deep prussian blue (my favourite colour), titanium white, unbleached titanium white and burnt umber. I did end up adding in a red – I think cadmium red but I don’t recall. When I work on a series of paintings, I just leave my tubes of paint out for the next session. No thinking or remembering required!


So apparently I skipped the part where I drew in the face. Just imagine that bit. To really get the atmosphere, I blocked in the major colours right away. I wanted the composition to be less traditional. Not centred. Almost caught in mid movement.


I struggled with the colours at first. You can see he looks slightly dead. How much to push the painting and where to stop were always on my mind.


The hand, a major player in the scene, was also causing problems. Defining the bones and keeping them realistic was important. In fact, if the hand didn’t work, the painting would be shot.


Look at the jump between the previous one and next one. I was getting fed up with where the painting was going. The background was too flat. The whole thing felt like fail. So I decided to add texture in a way that I haven’t done before. Loose and fast strokes. Big brush. Lots of colours. Cadmium Yellow I think was the yellow I added.


And a jump between these two as well. The background was working but the foreground wasn’t. I closed my eyes, used a giant brush and painted. Oh my goodness that was difficult! And then, suddenly, it wasn’t.


Look at that changes and how the painting really pulled together.


Subtle, subtle changes.


Have I mentioned that this is painting 1 of 3 in a series? Oh yeah, babe, it is! And those paintings will follow.

Sherlock Holmes: The newspapers were right all along. I want you to tell Lestrade, I want you to tell Mrs. Hudson and Molly, in fact tell anyone who will listen to you… that I created Moriarty for my own purposes.

Dr. John Watson: Ok, shut up Sherlock. Shut up. The first time we met – the first time we met, you knew all about my sister, right?

Sherlock Holmes: Nobody could be that clever.

Dr. John Watson: You could.

 “Nobody Could Be That Clever” 20″x16″ acrylic on canvas.

Want a painting of your own? Maybe even this one? Let’s talk!