Tuesday, March 13, 2012

the process

It began with this photograph that I TOOK myself.  If I can't take the time to actually paint my subject from life, I will work from my own photograph.  That's important.  It needs to be my vision, my selection, my composition, my choices, not someone else's.

Usually, if I am working in watercolor, my next step will be to make a small thumbnail sketch of the composition, working out the light and dark values.  Especially the darks.  However, with this canvas I just used my photo reference and jumped right on.

The canvas is 30"hx40"w.  I first used a thin acrylic glaze of red-orange.  I wanted a warm underpainting, so that the warmth might show through.  Little glimpses here and there.  Then I roughed in a pencil line drawing, to determine placement and movement of the branches.

Blue sky, violet tree, and a light brushing of foliage.  You have to start somewhere.  I usually just begin, knowing that anything can be changed, or painted out, or layered on.  You just have to get going, and trust that you know enough about what you are doing to let it happen.  I say this alot - "We'll see what happens."  I try not to have too many expectations, because if you are doing this right, the artistic process can take you anywhere.

This morning when I arrived at the studio, I felt the need to go with color.  Wild.  Bold.  There are now a lot of layers on this piece.  The last part I added before taking this photo was to lay in the area of lavender in the background.  I needed more feeling of depth.  The middle ground and foreground has also undergone many color changes.  Lots of layers.  Always little bits of the previous colors showing through.  This creates a depth and richness of color.  I like my brushstrokes to show.  And I prefer a level of abstraction, as opposed to trying to re-create a realistic scene.  Perhaps the abstraction allows me more freedom to "make mistakes" and not strive for perfection.  I like it better.

I have also noticed in paintings of late - especially using acrylics - that I don't tone down my colors.  Interesting to watch and learn of my own preferences over the years.  I like color.

This previous photo is not yet the finished work.  The painting is continuing to evolve.  I think it is nearly done.  Tomorrow I will see it again with fresh eyes, and decide what finishing touches are required.  Thanks for watching the progress thus far.

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