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Paintings based on quick sketches done during a life drawing session. The first with the model on her knees is a 5 minute sketch. The second is 10 minutes.

Great exercises to create volume with the Zorn palette. I’m thinking cylinder. Forming the cylinder with half-tones near the edges to lighter values. Again I established the light and shadow patterns in the painting. On my palette I create two piles for the light and shadow. The main color is the skin color of yellow ochre and cadmium red. White is added for light areas and black is added for shadows. If I wanted a more yellowish skin tone, I add more yellows; more reds around the cheeks, then a touch more red.

Ashley on Her Knees, June2015 oillinen 10x8

Ashley Kneeling June2015 oillinen 10x8

I don’t how long I will continue working with the Zorn palette. But it does help to work with a restricted palette.

Burnt Umber Underpainting for Color


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In WattsAtelierOnline, I’m now in a series of videos introducing four methods of painting the portrait in color. This is the first method – Burnt umber underpainting with color.

First, a detailed pencil drawing is done. It is sprayed with workable fixative so that the pencil won’t smear when oil is applied.
Burnt Umber Color drawing Marlene Lee

Then just using only burnt umber and Gamsol, I create a value study. I used various items to remove lighten the value – cotton swab, rags, fingers, kneaded eraser. This took about 4 hours to do.
Burnt Umber underpainting Marlene Lee

The burnt umber pick out becomes an underpainting for the color painting. I still use the Zorn palette of ivory black, titanium white, yellow ochre and cadmium red light. Another 3 to 4 hours were spend on the color painting.
Burnt Umber Underpainting with Color Marlene lee

This method is great for portrait commission.

Watts had set up his palette for the 9 values of each color – grey, yellow, red, green and purple. I had not been working with the 9 values setup but only three values for the light and two values for the shadow. To extend the life of his paints, heĀ uses clove oil. I’ve been using walnut oil and seems to working for me…but one I’ll buy the clove oil.

Watts Atelier Online program: The Skull


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I started back up with the painting program at Watts Atelier Online. I just finished a series of assignments that involves painting the skull, Asaro head and a cast. Each were to be painted from a profile, three-quarter and straight view as well as painting with combination of monochromatic colors. This was the second time I have done these assignments but it had been a year ago. But to do them again was worth it all.

Here is a profile view using the burnt umber pick out method. Burnt umber is applied in mid value. Lighter values are then picked out with cotton swabs, towels, brush dipped in gamsol or even with my finger.

Skull Profile burnt umber 060115

This assignment was to use burnt umber with white. The beginning of blending colors together.
Skull 3:4 painting 2

The final assignment is adding ivory black to titanium white and phthalo blue. Thalo blue is a very strong color so black and white toned it down. Quite a interesting but ghostly effects.
Skull Front thalo blue w blk wht 060115

Reclining Nude


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This painting was based on a quick sketch done during a drop in session at the Pence. I used the Zorn palette of titanium white, ivory black, yellow ochre, and cadmium red. In fact most of my paintings of the figure or portrait has been with the Zorn palette. I’m not quite ready to go into more colors yet.

Up for sale.

Male Model at the Pence, oil, 6 x 8 inches

Male Model at the Pence, oil, 6 x 8 inches

Drop in at the Pence Gallery


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5 minute then 20 minutes and finally a longer pose for 60 minutes. Working with charcoal pencils (2B and 4B) on smooth newsprint.

I took up a challenge to myself to work on one pose for that 60 minutes. Striving for a more finish look – developing details. Before I never took advantage of the 60 minute pose…just quick 20 minutes at various angles. There’s no challenge to that because there’s no time to develop. I definitely will now work on longer poses.

My next challenge is to work on toned paper with white charcoal.

5 minutes…5 minute poses

20 minutes…
20 minutes pose

60 minutes…
60 minute pose


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