Tuesday, April 16, 2019


I love C.F. Payne's drawing of the great illustrator, Charles Dana Gibson.

One reason Payne draws so damn well is that he draws insatiably.  Within the confines of traditional drawing, he never stops looking and exploring.  He fills sketchbooks with drawings like this of artists, writers, actors and others who interest him.  Through trial and error he invents different techniques to achieve the results he wants.  Here he employed an unusual approach:

1. Start with a solid drawing. It can't be lightly drawn because it must have enough weight to handle the next phase. 
2. Roll acrylics thinned with water and ultra matte medium using a brayer. The ultra matte medium is what gives the added texture that allows the final phase to work so well. 
3. Draw with colored pencils, adding acrylic paints as desired for whatever look you want to create.

 Payne occasionally adds color with a palette knife incorporating acrylic gel medium to thicken it up for application.

Of course, the key (as with all things in life) is to "start with a solid drawing."  But looking at the edges of the drawing you can see what the brayer, matte medium and colored pencils contribute.  

His color combinations may seem unusual but the warmth of the colored pencil adds an organic feel to the cold gray/green midtones.

Subdermal warmth from an unorthodox colored pencil choice.
But most of all, I love the opinions in Payne's drawing.  These highly magnified details show Payne's editorial choices at work.


Sheridan said...

I love the pioneer quality of his process. I think it would serve a lot of us well to have the same attitude. We have all learned how to use the materials as they were designed to be used, but what if we push the envelope. Some of his experimenting was born from the commercial requirement of meeting a deadline. He can finish a full color portrait/caraciture in a day or two, from concept to finish, and have it be good enough to adorn the cover of Time magazine. I don't think this is any small feat.

I imagine the attitude of the caricature images are often dictated by the client, but maybe not.

Great post! Thanks for sharing.

Richard said...

Would love to see some process pictures from his work.

chris bennett said...

This is an absolutely wonderful tonal painting. Thanks for the post David.

David Apatoff said...

Sheridan-- I agree, Payne is a rare combination of traditional strengths and "pioneer quality." The attitude of these particular caricature images aren't dictated by any client; Payne does them purely for his own pleasure. I watched him flip through a whole sketchbook of delightful drawings in various stages of completion. He sells them from time to time on Etsy (follow the link) rather than sell them to a client.

Richard-- Yes, some of his pictures take an unpredictable path. Sometimes he mixes oil and water based media, or creates under layers of odd colors such as purple. The result always looks good.

chris bennett-- Glad you share my regard for it.

Laurence John said...

one thing (among many) that impresses me about Payne’s work is that for all the amount of fine rendering (and often detail) it never looks overworked or stiff.

Chris James said...

Wonder how the sketchbook paper doesn't warp when he applies wet media.

chris bennett said...

Chris Jones,

I can't answer that, but a technical point concerning Payne's use of matte acrylic medium occurred to me:

Having used acrylic matte gel medium a lot myself (though for different purposes) I believe that maybe Payne's use of it mixed with pigment applied with a brayer roller is as a means of adding a fresh coat of evenly textured surface on top of whatever is underneath. By varying the dosage of acrylic gel to change the opacity of the toned paint it can be used as if collaging with even toned cartridge paper, or as a non-smudging eraser, or as a sheet of tracing paper (of varying transparency) laid over the entire image.

I cannot be entirely sure Payne is using it for these purposes, but I offer my speculation as a matter of general interest.

Anonymous said...

I would encourage people to follow his twitter account. @cfoxpayne He updates frequently and has a mix of “sketches” and more finished pieces.

MORAN said...

This drawing is truly awesome.

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