Labor omnia vincit is a Latin phrase meaning “Hard work conquers all”. The phrase appears in Virgil’s Georgics, Book I, in the form Labor omnia uicit improbus (“Ruinous work overcomes all things”). The poem was written in support of Augustus Caesar’s “Back to the land” policy, aimed at encouraging more Romans to become farmers.”- Lifted from Wikipedia

This was also a favorite motto of Bouguereau. He did work…a lot…and produced a lot.

Perpetually, the Zen Master’s Two Rules are true: Rule 1. Start. Rule 2. Never Give Up

If I want to play the piano, learn to ride a bike, swim, or to speak Russian, the secret to being successful is to never give up, and practice practice practice.

Picasso said that the secret to being a famous artist was, “Live longer than anyone else.” Quite true. No matter how bad you are, if you practice for more years, you will eventually create better work. Plus, the novelty of your struggle, mission, and commitment will be enough mixed with your geriatric age. 🙂

So, I’ve been practicing for a long time, but for most of my life it resembles how well I play trumpet. I did it a lot when I was a kid, and then I didn’t really practice or pick it up, but for one a year at Christmas. I can’t play trumpet any longer…or not well. My drawing journey has been very similar. I did it all the time as a kid. But, then never picked up but for once in awhile. Then one day you wake up and the urge to be that artist you always wanted to be consumes you. It is a zeal that pervades over you. You want to see the world as other painters do. Ahhh…to see those things, the way they saw them.

All art instruction is very simple: “Hold onto this piece of dirt or burnt wood, and learn to look.”

It is in the looking that comes the sight.

So, I’ve been practicing more than ever before. God, it was so simple: Work on this as much as you work on anything else, but more. How could I have missed that simple truth more obviously. Draw as many hours a day as a violinist does for the Symphony. Why isn’t art taught like that? Just do it, and continue to look and you will begin to see.

So with that as a preface, here is what I’ve been practicing. I’ve been drawing a lot and painting a lot. I thought I would combine the two so it would be easier to lead you the viewer through my mental process. Formerly, I would draw a elaborate under drawing for all my paintings. Lately I have been painting everything alla prima, and with no underdrawing. So, returning to this method was a little weird. But you get to see the drawing stage too. So for what it is worth, here you go:

This is the reference photo. It is an old girlfriend…I wish. 🙂 I’ve had it for about 3 years in my reference files. These are files of pictures I keep that either I’ve photographed, or ones that I have found that I thought would make great paintings. I have files on dogs, birds, faces, figures, landscapes, trees, water, etc.

The initial drawing was done with red conte pastel pencil on Canson Canvas Paper. 12 x 16 inches

This the final stage of the drawing. As can be seen, I tried to keep her warm, and put everything else in a cold environment. She is “hot” so she should be the warmest spot in the painting. Also notice how the drawing differs from the reference as I made the tree point shadows all point to her as do the reflections on the water. All the trees branches point to her, as do the leaves. Furthermore, I made the areas where the crook of her knees, hips, and neck all have the greatest reflections near those key points. The darkest dark on her is where legs join her hips;; which is the purpose of all pictures like this, that area becomes the bulls eye.

First painting, more like a tinting, is to rough in the general local colors of each object. I painted a imprimatura (coloring of the canvas before painting) with a warm purple. I thought that that color would help represent the color of the shadows and be a nice opposite to her tan color. In addition, as the green covers the purple, it creates an effect of vacillating colors in the shadows. The red of the pencil drawings help warm up the transitions of her form as it rolls into shadow keeping the darkest accents warm. Near the light it helps show that the skin is translucent, and light as it goes through flesh produces rose tones. Similar, to putting a lit flashlight in your mouth, the edges of the light are bright red.

So this is as far as I got on the 2nd painting. Mostly worked on framing her, and modeling her form. I’m paying close attention to color temperature here as well as the color of the light. Those parts of her body which reflects the sky are bluer, and the shadows which reflect the light coming off all the green around her, make a warm yellow green in the reflected light. The green of the waters reflection was painted flatly with regard to value in order to create a nice foil for the eye to relax in, as well as allowing her to be the center of interest with the greatest value contradictions. Near her feet it gets very dark to keep your eye contained around her, and becomes another ring of her bulls eye. I also used sgraffito or the act of dragging the end of the brush through the painting to dig to the deeper layers and reveal a ground layer white near the distant shore.