Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Veronika Noir" step by step.

Early this spring it rained record amounts here in New England. Subsequently my studio, which is in the basement, was flooded out. I painted this in my kitchen in the the midst of the chaos that is my home. Not ideal by any stretch of the imagination - but it worked. This first shot is the sketch transferred down to a sanded, gessoed canvas stretched over a quarter inch piece of masonite. It measures 24 x 16.

At this point I decide what the general colors of the piece will be. I mixed cadmium orange with it's near complimentary, french ultramarine blue. I say near because oil pigment is made from organic mater and are and are impure. I mix the two colors until they don't lean toward the blue or the orange. It looks like a big coffee stain.

Next I established my darks. I had just seen a bunch of Shawn Barber's art. He has an amazing loose, painterly style. I was inspired and wanted to try a much looser approach to my background. I love the look. I paint pretty tight and it was actually a test of strength to see if I could leave it alone in the end.

Next I blocked in the general colors. Cool blues in the shadows and warm oranges in the lights (skin tones).

Next I painted in the skin tones and hair. Not much else to it. I had a very difficult time photographing the painting because of it's stark nature. I managed to leave the background loose as planned..

Although Just to make sure, I took shots of the painting and in Photoshop I filled in the background just to make sure I liked it. Typical!

The model for "Veronika Noir" was the very lovely Veronika Kotlajic. Veronika is muse, designer and the very cool owner of Gallery Provacateur in Chicago.
Shawn Barber: (mentioned above) I've never met the man but I'm a huge fan. If you're not familiar with his work give yourself a treat: www.sdbarber.com/


  1. FRIGGIN' AWESOME DEMO, FRED!!! I'm looking forward to your video showing your actual paint application. I'm dying to play with oils though they terrify me since I have no practical experience with them. Bravo, again, buddy! BTW, I empathize with the reluctance to leave the work loose. I can never let it go and end up going bak in. lol

  2. Fred,

    Great step-by-step!! I have two questions:

    1. What did you use to glue the canvas to the board?
    2. How did you paint such large dark areas without getting dry patches? Sometimes I get areas that look drier than others if it is a large flat area of dark color. This is even when using the same medium throughout.

    GREAT WORK!!! Hope your basement and work survived.


  3. I absolutely love seeing the process and it was a great honor for me to be part of your work.

  4. Amazing!!!!!! i loved this work!! congratulations