The making of - Coursing through my veins

So I had this idea in my head for a while, I wanted to make a piece that summarized my work and made all of the other pieces kinda fit together for my show.

I knew I wanted it to be of my own hands, so after tons of pictures in different poses and positions by Jamie, I finally settled on one I liked.

WIP#1 - Coursing through my veins

I pulled out a fairly large canvas out of my canvas closet (I keep them stock piled in all different shapes and sizes so whenever the mood strikes I can pick the one I want for any particular piece) mounted it on my easel, pulled out a stick of charcoal and went at it.

I always start with the sketch, using willow or vine charcoal and once I have that down, spray it with hair spray or charcoal fixative to keep it from smudging. Once that was down, I started with the first bit of charcoal for the base and started smudging away, which is one of my favourite things to do (I love getting my hands dirty when I'm painting)

Now I have to admit, it was tough to get the drawing down, This is the first time I  ever used myself as a reference, so it was really weird to have to examine myself so closely, You actually see a lot of things you never noticed before.

so this was the first WIP picture I took of the process

The blog of Andrés Silvera

Yes I know the arms are crooked LOL, but I always refine things as I go, To start out I just want the shape or basic outline. It gets better, I promise ;)

WIP#2 - Coursing through my veins


So with that done, I start out on the second arm, adding more charcoal and shading, working it into the canvas with my hands and a rag to get a nice smooth finish.

I start to add in some more of the details in the skin and wrinkles and some subtle highlights.

Now one word of caution when smudging charcoal on canvas with your fingers if you haven't done it before. if you rub to hard and fast YOU CAN GET CANVAS BURN!! trust me, cause I got it LOL. It's kinda like carpet burn, but goes away a lot quicker.

This is the second WIP picture I took (after my fingers stopped burning)


So at this point and after a lot more charcoal (black and white)  my hands are totally black from smudging it around, There is charcoal on everything I touched in my studio and a trail of black footprints throughout the entire apartment LOL.

After washing my hands, I'm now ready to paint in the black background with acrylic paint. I thin it down with some airbrush medium to get a creamier consistency and a bit of ultramarine blue so that the black is not dull and start to fill in all of the background until I get an even and dark black background with a slight blue undertone.

You can see from the pic below, some areas were still wet

WIP#3 - Cpursing through my veins

I am at the point where I can add in the last details, put in the darkest darks and add in the white highlights using white charcoal.

I used Derwent XL sticks of charcoal for this piece which are absolutely amazing!

Now that all of the charcoal is done I spray the entire piece with a matte workable fixative and let it dry, and let me warn you that stuff stinks!! I had to leave the room for like an hour and open all of the doors and windows in the apartment to get some fresh air in there.

Once that was dry, I put down several acrylic colours on my palette and started to work on the veins, working on one arm at a time and blending in the colours to get a good transition. I worked from the bottom up and then dry brushed the veins in the hands so they were barely visible and seemed transparent under the skin. 

So my entire Saturday night and Sunday afternoon was dedicated to this piece and I am really happy with how it turned out.

This piece represents me from start to finish, and I hope anyone who sees it enjoys it as much as I enjoyed creating it. (Canvas burn and all)

Title: Coursing through my veins 
Medium: Charcoal and Acrylic on Canvas 
Size: 30x40 

Hope you like it :)

Coursing through my veins