Remington master copy

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  05 May 2013
Remington master copy

I want to learn to do more expressive brush work so I'm copying Fredric Remington. As you can see I have a long ways to go.

I'm working from a picture on the cover of a book. This eliminates the temptation to color pick and forces me to try to match color by eye. Unfortunately all of the online examples I've found of this particular painting are either more or less saturated then my book cover. They also aren't as detailed. Makes me wonder, what dose that painting really look like?

After looking at online copies I realize the book cover is cropped short. It's something I plan to fix in my copy, as it spoils the composition.

I'm realizing I didn't spend enough time on the accuracy of my original sketch. So now after the fact, I'm moving things around in an attempt to fix foundational mistakes.

There is a lot of subtly in the brush work that I'm missing. I'm surprised how much of it I'm not even aware of until I go over the piece several times. As I spend time studying the original I see more of detail, but I'm still not skillful enough to capture it.

Thoughts and comments most welcome. I want to get good and the only way is to hammer away at this stuff until it's right.
  05 May 2013
Have you considered approaching digital painting in the same manner you would oils? Simple sketch, toned under painting, and final layer of opaque coloring on top of all that?


If you do any more of these you should give it a shot. I think you'd gain a lot of insight.

Keep up the good work!
  05 May 2013
I'll defiantly try that on the next one. Thanks for the example.
  05 May 2013
And today's efforts. The rocks in the foreground are proving tricky. I'll give them another go when I'm fresh.

  05 May 2013
This is not a particularly easy piece to copy. Aside from the difficult pose and perspective it also has an unusual colour palette. One thing I'd immediately suggest is get rid of all the white earlier on in paintings. Pure white screws with your colour perception, and when you have an especially limited palette as you do here, it would make sense to block in the main areas straight away and make sure the colour relations are correct.

His painting has some odd luminosity to it; lots of middle-tones, and I notice you've gone for darker shadows under the horse's tail than he has. It seems logical but it interrupts the overall feel of the heavily stylised piece, so I'd suggest revising those to the simpler planes of flat ochre he uses. Your draftsmanship looks pretty good, and I can't see any real problems with your underlying sketch. None that jump out too much anyway.

I'd also suggest zooming way out, flipping your image, squinting and all those tricks to make sure that your overall colour schemes, composition etc. look right because they are right rather than just because you've been staring at them for so long. I notice his painting, or at least that image of it has a much flatter, darker tone to it than you've gone for, but I suppose you're copying one that's been enhanced or photographed under better light. Have to say I don't like his colours much, but that's beside the point. This does cause problems, though, becuase your colours suggest harder sunlit than his, which makes it look odd that there are so few shadows. If you ignore the horse and rider you'll see that his landscape is extremely flat and has very little impression of depth. It relies heavily on the dimishing rocks on the ground and the form of the horse shadow, so it will look wrong until those elements are firmly in.

Tricky case. Hope that was helpful.
  05 May 2013
Oh, missed the blindingly obvious: your crop favours the foreground but misses a lot of the sky. That makes the dude look cramped and requires a lot more detail to explain the foreground, which is currently not there at all. I suggest restoring some of that sky so the focus goes back to the rider.
  05 May 2013
Thank you for the detailed critique. I'll see what I can do to pull things together better. I didn't build the image up as a whole and now I can see how that's affecting it in a negative way. There are many elements to the artistic decisions of the original artist I've overlooked out of ignorance. I'm kind of at kindergarten level of see and repeat, without any real understanding of what it is I'm attempting to copy.

Thanks for your help. I'll keep working to improve this image and then take what I've learn on to the next piece
  05 May 2013
Nice stuff!
Looks like the colour pallet in the original is more limited and has the shadow areas also a bit more basic and prominent.

Not an easy painting to copy as was said.
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  05 May 2013
Thanks Chris

I didn't make a lot of progress, just adjusted the cropping, lightened the shadows and started laying in the rocks. I find the rocks particularly intimidating.

I think this image is always going to be a little broken because I didn't lay down a wash or block in the main forms early on. It leaves the subject looking pasted onto the scene.

  05 May 2013
Hmm... yes, makes more sense now. Stop using spackled brushes! Or at least, limit their use. Hard rounds will give you a much cleaner image, and you can go over the edges that don't work later with different brush types, but using hard rounds properly will give you a much more confident look to your painting.
  05 May 2013
If your main intention is to practice and improve your brushwork, then this piece by Remington really isn't an optimal choice. What you want, is to choose pieces that have actual readable and dynamic brushwork that shows how the artist deployed different approaches depending on the surface property, the turning of form, choices in selective detail, edge control, and how the brushwork contributes to the overall visual design of the entire image's tonal composition.

Also, I don't know what the original resolutions are of your reference and your copy, but you want to get at least as big as your desktop's resolution. Search only for high-resolution images on the web (google images allow you to filter by image size).

I highly recommend you study the brushwork of John Singer Sargent, Richard Schmid, Huihan Liu, Zaoming Wu, Susan Lyon, Pino Daeni, Daniel Gerhartz, Anders Zorn, Joaquin Sorolla, Morgan Weistling, Gil Elvgren, Jaime Jones, Craig Mullins, etc. IMO, all of them had/have better/more interesting brushwork than Remington. And if you want to see a living master at work and how he actually deploys his brushwork, I highly recommend Richard Schmid's DVD's--they are astounding. He's arguable the best living alla prima painter today.
  05 May 2013
Thank you Aran and Robert. I started using the round brush and experimented with the settings. I'll get the hang of it. I will look into the other artist mentioned for further practice.

This is where I am on Remington. I think I'll leave it here and start another practice piece.

Thanks again to everyone who offered advice. It was much needed.

  05 May 2013
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