Thomas Eakins is one of my favorite artists. He shares a lot in common with artists like Robert Henri, John Singer Sargent and Velasquez.
Here's a quote in which he discusses something that my teacher Greenburg suggested was really a great idea. It's about drawing with the brush.
The brush is more powerful and rapid tool in the point or stump. Very often, practically, before the student has had time to get his broadest masses of light and shade with either of these, he has forgotten what he is after. Charcoal would do better, but it is clumsy and rubs too easily for the students work. Still, the main thing that the brush secures is the instant grasp of the grand construction of a figure. There are no lines in nature as we find out long before Fortini exhibited his detestation of them: there are only form and color.
How Eakins and drawing with the brush is used for a portrait.
is watching me so
Then I "sketched" out the face with burnt umber on the panel with a brush. I focused on the biggest dark masses.
I then began to wipe out most of the lights with a rag and redefined the darks and redrew in some areas with some more opaque oil paints.
The darkest areas are actually a mixture of lamp black (NOT ivory) alizarin crimson, scarlet and cadmium red medium paint. It's actually more of a purple black than straight dark. This mixes with the underpainting of burnt umber and makes some beautiful mixtures of tones.
Next I began mixing this stuff with cadmium orange to make the dark flesh tones.
See the Galkyd on the left and the mix of orange and my black mixture to its right. I then painted in most of the larger dark masses with this modified orange.
Moving into the lighter areas I mix in white (soft mixing white by Winton) and create a series of flesh tones.
It's sort of a paint by numbers operation at this point where I work from dark to light but mass in the largest and most general tones with the largest brush I have. My teacher Irwin Greenberg used to say that "Big painters use a big brush."
Blend edges redefine tones, start working out smaller details.
Redefine the drawing using the mixture start working with a smaller brush (about 1/2")
Redefine details of face, brush in some cadmium red light to pink out the cheeks and nose.
The background is a modified payne's gray with some yellow ochre. My wife says it's green. I think it's gray.
The hat is burnt sienna.
Here's the finished painting.
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