|Oil painting demonstration by Robert Liberace.
To listen to Robert Liberace
talk during one of his
demonstrations, sometimes, fleetingly, it sounds to me like there is an occasional contradiction. The most
recent example I can point to is when he talked during his most recent demo
about drawing and painting with both "abandon and control." Well, how do I do
that? But when I watch him paint, I begin to understand at least how he
that. (I'm a long way from
figuring out how to effectively do it myself!)
This oil painting was done in class at the Art
League in Alexandria, Virginia (developed
further since my last blog), and is a good example of that abandon and control, as is his demonstration in his DVD, The Figure Sketch in Oil.
His first marks with oil on canvas amount to a
thin, very fluid line. From my perspective, his gesture is fluid, loose, and yet powerful. From there he adds shadow. Even with the
addition of the first pass of shadows, the painted sketch still seems to me to
be really fluid, full of motion. Rob seemed to be shaping
the form, taking care to pay attention to the width of the light, the width of
the shadow, and still, critically, maintaining that initial dynamic gesture
even with his straight lines.
In my own paintings, at this point I find that I have to
really focus to maintain the oil painting techniques that give me that gesture—the one that made me want to paint that
pose in the first place. Rob says that you may want to start over if you find yourself at that
point and repeatedly stresses the importance of maintaining the strength of the
As the shadow shapes take form, the concept of both abandon
and control make more sense for me. In the demo, Rob carefully, but quickly,
shaped the shadows, both form and cast shadows. Both the bones and muscles began to appear, especially the
scapula and vertebral column. The control was initially represented by the care
he put into laying in the shadows. (Jon deMartin, an instructor of mine at Studio Incamminati reminds
readers in a recent Drawing magazine article that it is critical to keep a
clear distinction between light and shadow, and that halftones are part of the
light, not part of the shadow.)
When adding color, Rob added the "most obvious color with
the largest presence," applying it sometimes with hatching strokes and
sometimes blocks of color. He used
the half tones to note the plane changes, and turn the individual forms.
He did all that maintaining his initial gesture. Truly using
both abandon and control!