Experimenting with Colour and Pattern

In an effort to help me develop my eye for colour, 'Vegvisir was painted in a rich, highly patterned technique.. The slight crosshatched patterned paint, a continuation of a style that I've been exploring in previous works. However it was created after indulging in a bout of experimentation, playing with new ideas and approaches, and as a result, Vegvisir is visually, in colour and technique, very different from my recent works.

Vegvisir' Dog Impressionist Oil Painting by Jacqueline Gomez on the Easel
Completed on the easel.

Preliminary Work

With a vague idea of what I wished to achieve, a few thumbnail colour studies were done first, to the test the look and best toned background hue for the piece..

Green toned ground impressionist still life painting
2"x3" thumbnail with a green toned ground

Red toned ground impressionist still life painting
Thumbnail with a red toned ground

Thumbnail oil sketches from life

After some brainstorming, conceptual inspiration was found that included a ready and willing model.. my faithful companion, Sherlock. :)
As I am want to do, during the preliminary stages of a piece, research was done in to symbolism and philosophies that would be integral to the formulation of the concept and resultant composition of the piece. A symbol, I found quite intriguing, 'Vegvisir' a nordic symbol for guidance and protection, would be a prominent feature in the piece.. I must admit, this part of the process, researching new concepts, history etc.. which I then get to incorporate in my work, is a major part of why I love creating art so much!..

Dozens and dozens of photos were taken of Sherlock (he was a fabulously patient model as always), and a composition formulated with the help of photoshop, to help me visualize the composition further. 

Somethings are just easier to visualize with a simple tonal study though. A few more little paint experiments were done too..

Preliminary Sketch for painting
A sketch gave me the opportunity to have a clearer idea of the lights and darks, as well as how all elements would be incorporated in to the piece. The Vegvisir symbol molding in to the 3D forms of the subject matter..

Thumbnail Oil painting tests..
Here the technique that would eventually be modified for more subtle results (with a less textured canvas surface) to incorporate the Vegvisir symbol, is tested out.

Preparing the Support.

To create the effect wanted, a little more preliminary work than usual was required in preparing the canvasboard..

Black Stained Canvas board
After the canvas was mounted on hardboard and dried thoroughly, the canvas was then 'stained' with black plaka.

Masking black stained canvas board
Once the plaka had dried, masking taped was taped over the whole canvas board

Then the design was traced onto the taped canvasboard.

...and cut out with a sharp blade.

With that, the gesso could be laid on, and while it was still wet, remove the stencil. 

Besides it just simply being easier to remove when wet, the still wet edges left by the stencil could then be 'untidied' for a more natural look.

Dried gesso ready for paint.. The exposed black canvas was protected with a clear acrylic coating at this point.

Preliminary Drawing

The gesso was given 24 hours to dry before toning it with a mixture of bright green and cad red acrylic.

Next was the preliminary drawing. At this point, slight adjustments could be made to any areas where the black canvas parts did not accurately fit my drawing, by spot covering with more gesso and toning with more green acrylic..

Preliminary drawing over toned ground WIP by Jacqueline Gomez
Preliminary drawing over a mixture of bright green and cad red acrylic toned ground.

Starting to Paint in Oil

The first layers of paint were done with mixtures of pure paint (no white) in a contouring crosshatched pattern that ensured the green toned ground still peeped through here and there.

Starting to paint

Starting white hair details

The first layer was done (on the whole) in the basic local colour.

Still on the 1st layer.

Work in progress ' Vegvisir' by Jacqueline Gomez
Starting the 2nd layer with the blanket.

Still following the contour lines mapped previously in the first layer, details showing changes in light and hues started to be included. An Annulet pattern was also added to the blanket at this point, with a lighter tone of the local blanket colour..

The flowers represented in the upper cushions are based on the cumin flower which is a symbol of fidelity.. ​

It was important to determine the temperature of the light source first (in this case the light was warm with cool shadows) before starting to prepare the mixtures. 
Several basic variations of hue and tone (about 4) of each patch of local colour were prepared beforehand ( mixing more complex detailed hue/tone shifts as I painted). 2 more variations of each local hue were mixed using cooler hues (for example using lemon yellow instead of cad yellow) for the areas further away or in shadowed cooler areas.

Touches in complementary hues (in concert with the complementary green toned ground that still showed in parts) were added here and there for more visual excitement. This use of complementaries is something I am still getting a handle on, but this instantly brings out the vibrancy of the surrounding hues when done right!.. 

Creating an oil painting
2nd layer of blanket done.

Work in progress impressionist oil painting
I struggled somewhat with how to paint Sherlock's white main, scrapping it down at one point (as seen here)

Work in progress animal oil painting
3rd layer on most of the dog. The dog is nearly complete at this point except for a little more adjustment to the white main (again) later. Here you can see the central circle emerge with an initial application of a green glaze.

The final stages focused on incorporating the green central circle in to the blanket etc. and completing the green cushion with a few more touch ups here and there..

As intended, the Vegvisir symbol is only seen clearly, under the right lighting conditions, when viewed at an angle. 

Vegvisir' Oil Painting (side view) by Jacqueline Gomez
Side view showing the embedded Vegvisir symbol..

Vegvisir' Oil Painting, on the easel by Jacqueline Gomez
Completed 'Vegvisir' on the easel

After a couple of weeks, 'Vegvisir' was given a layer of retouch varnish and scanned.

It was a horrendous job trying to get an accurate representation of the colours in photoshop though (red is notoriously difficult to get just right without skewing the accuracy of other hues in the composition). 

Here it is as close in colour representation to the original as I could get it!..

Vegvisir Oil on Canvasboard Symbolic Dog Oil Painting by Jacqueline Gomez
Vegvisir (scanned and colour corrected in photoshop)
Oil on Gesso & Plaka Primed Canvas Board
10 x 10 Inches

Check out more images and info of what you can expect when purchasing this piece at Vegvisir.

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Thanks for dropping by folks!

p.s. latest youtube video which reveals some of the hidden symbolism within the piece...


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