Post image for Druid Dreams Work in-Progress

Druid Dreams Work in-Progress

by Alex Castro

This rough conceptual drawing will be painted on 27″ x 43″ custom made oil primed Belgium linen panel.

I’ll need a few weeks to finish up the “Haitian Spiritual Singers ,” but I’ll have to wait until I’m finished with Conan the Conqueror statue that is due to arrive this Tuesday.

That being said, I started drawing a composition I dreamt about. As soon as I dream up a composition, I have to draw it otherwise I’ll forget the composition. I ‘ve had been thinking about a composition concerning Stonehenge for awhile so when I had this inspiration I immediately started drawing and researching the pieces to the puzzle.

When I I’m working with a composition I have dreamt or have a real fuzzy idea about it, I often time go thru a lot of drawing , most of which goes in the trash! I have thrown this drawing in the garbage a few times and re-opened it and started drawing on it again, which is why it looks so wrinkled .

For some artist everything come to them alla prima . This is my forth attempt, so much for alla prima… Ha!!!

I’m also in the process of doing some research to back up my dreams! Next, I will tackle the l right hand (the one that’s missing ) and a bit more of the body. Then the dress wear may need to be changed as well. I’m thinking of incorporating a crow in flight or a few crows on the ground to the l right. I would also like to add a bunch of mistletoe that was sacred to the druids and a sickle called a bolline often used for ritual functions.These are just some ideas I’m throwing around and may be adding to the composition.

The Dawing:
In the large area I wanted Stonehenge completely visible as a esoteric and historical backdrop to set the theme and mood for the composition,
but I also wanted the druid to be the main player in this composition . I want her to be waking up from a dream in front of Stonehenge. The issues so far have been the following: the girl ‘ s face and expression since I didn’t want her too old or too young ; I didn’t want her to look like a fashion model or a beautiful cover/ pinup girl; the nose since I didn’t want it to be too tiny and perfect; I added a slight space to her teeth. Of course she needs to appear Scottish, Irish or an English looking lassie so I will also add some freckles and she will definitely be a red head.

Rough conceptual drawing that I’m getting ready to trace on canvas panel, which will be painted on 27? x 43? custom made oil primed Belgium linen panel. Drawing by Alex Castro

My apologies for the delays on this piece; between teaching, painting the miniatures, developing three other complex compositions and my website, my plate is pretty full. That being said, I’m glad to be back with you and doing what I love the most.  I have a new website that is currently under construction.  The paintings are up but I need to redo the reading material, www.alexcastro.com

The “Druids Dreams,” is a composition of a young girl dreaming, but at the same time she is the dream. Overall, I wanted to create a mysterious and esoteric mood in this work.

There are compositional considerations that have gone into this piece. The overall piece is a wide-view landscape with an image superimpose on it. At this stage, I wanted to get a few variables balanced out: the solidity of the stone work versus the softness and the transparency of the girl (Yen & Yan). Also the composition is static in nature.  To balance this out, I suggest movement in the clouds as well as movement with the girl’s hair.

The panel board I used is from a company named ArtBoards (artboard@earthlink.net) from Brooklyn, New York. They handle all my canvases and panels.

As you can see on the picture above, I use a large roll of tracing paper ( Sally’s Wax Free Artists’ graphite Paper) to sketch and compose the original drawing.  This avoids the extra step of transferring the drawing from paper to tracing paper!

Using gloves and paper mask, I then take white lead called litharge and carefully paint the canvas. I add some thinner to obtain a thick heavy consistency. Note, I use regular 2” or 3” house painting brushes to apply the white lead paint. The strategy is to apply it evenly over the entire surface at an angle. For texture and impasto effect, I apply the lead paint again in a helter-skelter fashion. Lastly, I stroke in the direction of objects. I consider this an important step because it provides direction. For example, if the clouds are moving left to right, I will start to stroke around the area in a strong left to right direction in an impasto effect, emphasizing movement. If the horizon is going vertical, I suggest but not imply direction. For the stone, I make the strokes vertically.  The girl’s hair, which is blowing from right to left, I stroke it in that same direction. Once again the white lead paint is applied to emphasize texture and movement in a very subtle manner. I let this dry for a few days.

Then I take the carbon paper and gently tap it onto the board, careful not to smutch it too much. I make sure I have good tape that will hold the carbon in place on the board.  I gently tape the original drawing over the carbon making sure the composition is where it’s suppose to be on the board. Then I tape from the top only. The idea is to be able to swing the drawing over the top and out of the way, yet be able to flip it back in place if need be. I use a hard pencil  (REXEL Cumberland Derwent Graphic 6H pencil) with a very sharp point to gently go over the drawing,  keeping in mind the toning and shadow work is not necessary and that all I want is a very thin ghost-like covering, which can removed with thinner or paint later on.

Note, try not to rest on the work or press on the carbon. This really requires a light drawing touch. Once I’m done and convinced that everything is where it’s suppose to be, I then spray it with fixative. It’s better to spray a few times, letting it dry, than applying a thick application that may drip.

 I allow the drawing to dry for a few hours.

This rough conceptual brunt umber wet drawing will be painted on 27? x 43? custom made oil primed Belgium linen panel. By Alex Castro

Using Winsor & Newton impasto, I mix up a batch of medium and burnt umber, 40/60 ratio (40 medium & 60 paint). I thin out the paint with thinner not oil. The Winsor & Newton impasto (Liquin Original) comes in three thicknesses. Note, depending on the area, I use different batches of medium; I will use the heaver batch of impasto on the same canvas in different areas. The rougher the surface I’m painting, the thicker the medium.

I then place gray tone paper under the pallet glass for tone value and I use the same gray paper pallets for my portable pallet as well.

 Note, some people consider this stage as a painting stage. I consider it a wet drawing.

I use burnt umber to cover the graphite pencil.  I also use it to establish values and more importantly to establish some sense of drama and mood with my values. The burnt umber adds warmth to the composition. This process dries overnight and can be easily removed.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

jaclyn perrelli November 20, 2009 at 8:27 pm

I added this close-up to my blog. I think it’s a beautiful drawing. I hope you don’t mind; your name appears beneath as credit.

Oil painting techniques January 11, 2010 at 3:47 am

“Painting, like music, has nothing to do with reproduction of nature, nor interpretation of intellectual meanings. Whoever is able to feel the beauty of colors and forms has understood non-objective [abstract] painting.” — Hilla Rebay

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