Thursday, December 3, 2015
A couple of months ago we took a look at Ivan Shishkin's opinion of photo reference
in his landscape painting. Now let's examine more about his specific working methods.
He would advise his students: "Before starting the painting, you have to
do a sketch to clarify the idea and plan what you're going to be doing
on a big canvas."
Note in the sketch at left, Shishkin draws a grid, probably to help him enlarge the composition onto the canvas.
Shishkin continues: "It's also important to do a preliminary drawing [on
the canvas] with charcoal. Put a layer of charcoal on a clean canvas
and wipe it with a dry tissue. You'll have a smooth base tone, and you
can draw over that with more charcoal. You can erase off halftones and
lights using an eraser made from a chunk of black bread. If you do that
you will get the effect of lighting you need, and then you're ready to
continue with the final painting."
Shishkin typically used ink to clarify the outlines of the trees in his
preliminary drawings. Once the preliminary drawing was finished, he
would proceed to do a tonal underpainting in monochrome before painting
in full color.
Paint and palette organization
"He carefully mixed organized groups of colors on his palette. All the
colors must be prepared in groups in advance on the palette. He began by
applying the darkest tones of paint. Then he proceeded to the
halftones, and so on up to the light." (From a letter from Ivan
Shishkin, St. Petersburg, 1896).
Shishkin studied in Düsseldorf
so it's not surprising that he used primarily German paints. "He used
zinc whites for big studio paintings and lead whites during his
traveling and for outdoor painting, because they dry more quickly. He
painted on canvases from Dresden if he could."
"He used to buy a lot of different paints. But if he didn't know the
specifications of a given kind of paint, such as lightfastness and
durability, he avoided it."
"Because of this he completely stopped using carmine oil paint after [Vasily] Polenov
showed him a chart of paints that was left in the sun for 10 years, and carmine completely disappeared."
|Ivan Shishkin and A. Guinet in the studio on the island of Valaam|
Here's a list of Shishkin's paints:
English red, Chinese vermilion, rose madder, and rose doré, mostly used for glazing. Burnt sienna was his favorite.
Yellow ocher, cadmium yellows and oranges, zinc yellow (for backgrounds
and leaves in the sunlight), raw sienna, chrome yellow (rarely), and
Indian yellow (for glazing). He never used gamboge or aureolin.
Sometimes he used Naples yellow for sand and roots. Occasionally for
foreground textures he would mix fine sand into the paints.
Sky blue (?) and Prussian blue.
He used a lot of different ones, including: permanent green, cobalt
green, chrome green, vermilion green, emerald green, and others.
Ivory black and lamp black oil paint.