William Bouguereau, was a 19th Century French Academic painter. His technique was the zenith point of representational painting. He was able to catch the very nuances of light shifts and color changes to create breathtaking, life-like figure paintings. Mr. Bouguereau’s realism is unsurpassed, before or since, in all of art history. With that being said, let’s learn from the best, just how do we paint the landscape as a background to our figure paintings?
Bouguereau’s work, “Breton Brother and Sister“, is the perfect example of a very effective way of using the landscape to create a background in a work of art. Notice that in this piece, the stars of the painting are the two figures in the foreground. Their colors are well saturated and vivid with a full dynamic range of values. Their warm skin tones and red skirt leap out of the painting. Light and dark tones are next to one another to attract your attention.
The background, or “supporting actor”, is much more muted with an abbreviated range of values. The colors of the foliage are less saturated and cooler in temperature. All of these elements push the landscape much further into space while pushing the figures even closer to us. Everything is done intentionally; much as a movie director composes a scene in a film.
Remember that the background needs to be painted as a backdrop and never to compete with your figures. Keep this in mind next time you work on your figure painting’s composition.
Please check out and subscribe to my YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/paintedglyphs333 where I give free lessons and demonstrations on airbrush, pastel and drawing techniques.
The Best PSI or Air Pressure Revealed
Since I have been blogging and posting videos on YouTube I have been asked this question a lot. It has always been a big mystery. Some airbrush artists say 15 PSI while others say over 45 PSI. That is quite a disparity! I was even more confused than when I started my quest for the best PSI, years ago. I am going to share my own answer from what I have learned with the countless hours of painting in airbrush and much experimentation.
If you are not airbrushing t-shirts, you always want to reduce your paint to the consistency of skim milk or thinner (ink is already perfect out of the bottle). Since you are working with thin paint or ink, set the PSI on your compressor to 30 PSI. This will help you if you need to shoot out a rich opaque like white.
Make sure that you have some kind of micro adjustment valve on your airbrush. With the MAC valve you will be able to adjust the air pressure at the airbrush that works best with your paint and the amount of detail you are desiring.
Remember to always try and find the sweet spot, fine tune the MAC valve while you are working and don’t worry too much about the exact PSI. If your paint or ink is spidering, lower the air pressure on the MAC valve or increase the airbrush’s distance from the surface. Play around with it. Much is to be learned through experimentation.
If you follow my advice, you won’t need to worry about PSI again. If you are working with t-shirts, that is a different story.
30 minutes per day will make you an “airbrush control freak” in one year.
That is all that it would take. Nothing takes the place of consistent practice, By practicing a small amount of time every day for one year, you will create muscle memory and your airbrush control will happen naturally.
If you set your practice schedule as immovable blocks of minutes, you will be able to reach this seemingly lofty goal of practicing every day. I make sure that I do my paintings in airbrush during the one hour in the morning before the phones will ring.
I learned more about controlling my airbrush through the act of practicing than any lesson or seminar could ever.
How to Airbrush the Portrait in India Ink, Each Week and Why?
Timothy John-Luke Smith
Portrait of John Coltrane
India Ink and Airbrush
I didn’t set out to work in airbrush and India Ink. I am a classical trained artist with an extensive and intense curriculum. For over 8 years of training, I learned how to use many mediums such as oil painting, watercolors, pen and ink, acrylic, graphite and pastels. How did a classically trained artist ever pick up the airbrush, you might ask?
After graduation from art school I finally set my mind on the medium that I would concentrate on. That medium was pastel painting. I learned how to paint the portrait and figure in pastels with Harvey Dinnerstein, at the National Academy School of Fine Arts. For many years I only worked in this medium but I am also an innovator at heart. Painting with pastels over and over the same way was boring to me. I love the underpainting method of the 19th Century French Academic painters such as Jean Augusta Dominique Ingres and William Bouguereau. I wanted to use this technique with my pastel paintings.
Since I was trained with India Ink washes and the paint brush, I started to use this technique as an underpainting for my pastels. The one problem that I did have was that these ink washes weren’t as detailed as I wanted them to be. The paint brush was very limited to broad results. Then one day on YouTube, I seen an airbrush black and white painting and the light bulb went off. What if I shot the India Ink through the airbrush? I bought my first airbrush. Then I had gotten very good at the India Ink and airbrush and my underpaintings were as tight as I had wanted them. The unexpected happened for me. I fell in love with the India Ink and the airbrush. This is when the medium and the technique that I am developing now was born.
So, here we are embarking on a new journey, painting in India Ink and the airbrush on tinted paper or Masonite boards. I am doing live streams and videos each week that teach this technique step by step. I am meeting some incredible people and sharing our inspirations. Our community and I are growing together. We are building a community of inspiring and pushing one another to get better with India Ink and airbrush. Come join us on my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/paintedglyphs333