6 x 6, oil on panel, work in progress
I really enjoy it when other artists post information on their painting process - I learn so much watching someone else do the work. But sooner or later, I'm the one doing the work.
I've created a slide show so that you can see slivers of my process, start to nearly finish. I added comments when I created the show, but I'm not sure that Picassa will reveal them to you, so here's the running commentary.
The very first image( which is actually the ending image) is my faithful studio companion. More about him later.
Okay, press play to see the official first slide, a shot of my set-up. Then an example of how I use my view finder tool to settle on a composition. Next, the required shot of my palette. I knew this would be a warm painting with a complementary color scheme, so I laid out yellows, oranges, reds, violets, and blues to work with, plus a puddle of liquin. As I'm working, I mix my color with a dab of liquin, paint, wipe my brush, mix...I seldom use the OMS unless I'm switching from a dark back to a light (Tip I learned watching an instructional DVD).
I paint 95% of the painting using an old fan brush that I trimmed to an angle (Another tip I learned). I'm amazed that I can make so many different marks with this one brush. I start very thin, get the placement of my major shapes, make sure they're where I want them. Then I will use a paper towel to wipe back the paint, erasing some lines - a reductive method very similar to charcoal drawing. When I'm happy, I can start to build up the painting. Since the liquin and the paint film dry quickly on this gessoboard I don't worry about muddy color.
The next few images show how I build up the under-painting. I try to keep the paint thin, working on the volume in the forms. Things I am thinking about at this stage are:
- gradation, left to right, cool to warm
- color relationships - warms and cools
- direction of light and shadow pattern
- suggestion of a pattern in the cloth
Every painting decision is a mixture of these ideas. I constantly compare - is this area warmer or cooler than that area, darker or lighter. It's common for me to work slowly and repeatedly through this process as one correction instigates another. I've also learned to sacrifice a *favorite* mark if it isn't working with everything else. Along the way, I'll use a palette knife to smooth down brush marks, scrape back thicker areas of paint, and blend color. I don't want to get ahead of myself and start putting in the fun stuff before the painting is ready.
I eventually spend more time thinking about what to do, studying the painting in reverse using a mirror, putting it on a small easel and looking at it from a different position, different light, and going to get coffee, check email, go on twitter, check facebook, see what's selling on eBay, and in general procrastinate before I have to go back in and make the final mistakes---oops, make the final marks that will bring it to completion.
Now I use a small brush and a palette knife. What I am thinking about, in no particular order, is:
- what is dominant?
- how am I going to use color now?
- how can I make this paint surface beautiful?
- does the light source read correctly?
- do the shadows link forms?
- does the cloth read correctly?
- are there any brush marks going in the wrong direction?
At some point - like now - I stop and let the painting have some alone time. I will usually put it back on the small easel and then throughout the next few hours go back and look at it from the doorway. I do this because my vision prescription is wonky for close up right now and I can see much better at a distance...casualties of older age.
And speaking of older age, the last image (or the very first, depending on how the slide show loads) is of my faithful studio companion and prison guard, asleep in the doorway so that I can't leave without him knowing it. Of course, he's older now, too, and doesn't hear as well as he used to, so if I'm really careful I can step over him and escape for a while. He won't even know...yes, I know, bad artist.
I've already decided that I need to work on the cloth a bit more, smooth out some of the active brush marks. The background needs to be flat with better gradation, but I can't go back in until that layer dries. Those of you who work on gessoed panel know that some applications of paint need to dry before you go back over them - otherwise your brush just pulls off paint and leaves scratchy brush marks.
So enjoy the slide show. And share your own painting tips.
Tip for viewing the slide show and the comments: Click on the link *Tangerines* by Sue and it will take you to the Picassa public album, full size with my comments in the comments fields below the images.