Wednesday, 13 August 2008

The Right Angle

Someone recently asked me about positioning of the easel in relation to the model.

Seeing the photographs above had got them thinking about whether what they were doing was right.

In the F Studio at the Slade we used plumb-lines to give you a constant, unchanging reference point for the position of your head again a particular part of the subject. A mark would usually also be made on a solid, unmoving object such as the backdrop or a wall.

I no longer use a plumb-line, but I am fastidious about posititioning myself in such a way that I am limiting the amount I have to move my head throughout the painting process. If I can set things up in such a way that I can simply glance at the model, then at the canvas without turning my head I find this ideal.

Examples of this are given in the pictures above.

With larger canvases however such an approach is sometimes not possible. I then spend time before I start moving and tilting the canvas to ensure that it doesn't obscure my subject, but is also not turned so much that I have to move or turn excessively away from the model to make marks.

In addition I mark the position of the model, the easel, and my painting stool on the floor using paint or chalk to ensure I can return to exactly the same position as far as possible.