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Old 11-19-2009, 08:50 PM   #1
Dean Lapinel Dean Lapinel is offline
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Guitar strings




I'm Painting a portrait of a guitarist with his favorite vintage guitar. I am planning ahead (really worried ahead of time) for the painting of the strings. I would like these to be closer to realism than "suggestive". I wonder if sewing thread run though thiined paint might work (ancor one end then swing it down to the canvas).

Are there known appoaches for this subject? I do not think I can do this well with a stick and brush.

Thanks-
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Old 11-20-2009, 01:05 PM   #2
Sara Lasso Lopez Sara Lasso Lopez is offline
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I would paint them. Just trying to suggest the strings as very thing lines and playing with the thickness/transparency of the paint may give you a realist feeling.

For me works the best to don
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Old 11-20-2009, 01:24 PM   #3
Dean Lapinel Dean Lapinel is offline
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Hi Sara,

I did the frets freehand and that was hard enough. Two feet of varying thickness strings seems difficult freehand; even more so when it has to match the lines behind the players hand.

Unfortunately I think the viewer
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:01 PM   #4
Richard Bingham Richard Bingham is offline
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Without seeing your overall handling of the piece, it could be "bad advice" to advocate any particular method of dealing with such fine details as guitar strings (or frets).

Generally, it's usually not the best thing to stress over any detail. Lost and found edges, "impressions" and visual shorthand are usually best, letting the viewer "fill in" what's missing. After all, the most important thing in the painting is not the guitar, or its strings and frets, but the head of the guitarist (right?)

That said, the confidence to render fine detail depends on 1.your hand/eye coordination 2. your brush handling skill 3. your knowledge of your materials.

Possible "ploys" - if you have the "chops", paint the detail into a "couch" with loose paint using a rigger and a mahl-stick, (anyone doing portraits should own this particular skill set) OR use the edge of a palette knife to paint the strings, rather than a brush, OR use "sgraffito" to render the strings (scrape off darker overpaint to reveal a lighter underpainting using a needle or a knife, OR you can "model" 3-D "strings" in an impasto technique (white lead and copal concentrate makes paint stiff enough to "stand and salute").

And, indeed, you could paint actual strings into your picture (as you suggest) : Antonio Mancini (19th C. Italian artist) used strange grids of strings to make some of his later pictures, one which he looked through, the other was a network superimposed on the painting, which sometimes became incorporated into the paint layers. It would not be the best technique from an archival standpoint, however.

Good luck, and please show us how you're "doing". By posting the work in progress, perhaps other more helpful suggestions will be offered.
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Old 11-20-2009, 04:07 PM   #5
Dean Lapinel Dean Lapinel is offline
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Thank you Idahoan!

Wonderful post Richard..."chops"

I'll have to reflect on your post more but all I need is in there thanks.

Dean
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:40 AM   #6
Mike McCarty Mike McCarty is offline
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I painted guitar strings once. My approach was to press the edge of a ruler into the background of wet paint. This gives you a line to paint to. The wet paint background allows you to not be so fussy with the painted line. Then, you cut around the strings edges to mold their thickness or clean up any glitches. Sometimes just the thin imprint (or not) of the rulers edge is sufficient to create the illusion.
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Old 11-24-2009, 08:06 PM   #7
Natalie Hunsaker Natalie Hunsaker is offline
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What a great thread, Dean. Mike, I thought your idea was really good--especially for people with a little less-than-steady hand. I'd love to see a copy of the painting you did with this technique. Dean, I'll join the chorus for wanting to see your painting.
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Old 01-11-2010, 02:37 PM   #8
Dianne Gardner Dianne Gardner is offline
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I would probably use a palette knife but as Richard says it certainly would depend on your style. Just remember that guitar strings are different width and texture with the lower ones actually being coiled with brass. (I'm assuming you are speaking of a classical guitar and steel strings...of course then there are nylon strings?)
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