Thursday, 5 January 2012

The development of a painting PART 1

I decided to just go for it with one of my new large 48x36" canvases (see Family life with an Art Nutter  Jan 3rd for the story of the Canvas FAIL).

This is my second very large oil painting.  I choose a limited pallet of Ultramarine blue, Yellow Light, Cadmium Red, Yellow Ochre, and Titanium White.  What follows are the steps that I took

Step 1:  Lay in a foundation of cool and warm colours.  This is rough work and goes in quickly. I roughly outline the hills (I have already roughed the picture in with pencil making sure that my water horizon line is straight, i.e. ruled in).

Step 2:  I lay the sky in being mindful to reduce the tone as I approach the horizon.  I also blend the sky into the top of the hills aiming for reduced contrast as things that are far away tend to blend into each other and share light.  I go in with white on my pallet knife and put in some clouds.  I deliberately keep it minimal.  This painting isn't about the sky.

Step 3:  I begin to lay in the ocean.  As I look at it now I see that there is a line on the horizon, this is tonally incorrect.  Tomorrow I will need to blend this line as it is cutting the picture into segments.  A happy accident that I decided to leave for the moment and make decisions about later is the wave that appeared when I scraped white paint on with the pallet knife.  It was my intention to blend this white but it became a wave that I liked the look of so I left it.

Step 4:  I continue with the ocean, remembering that as the water gets shallow you begin to see the ocean floor through it.  I work quickly and am mindful to keep my strokes horizontal with a slight bend as the water comes up onto the shore. I enjoy the process and allow it to morph as I add warmer tones to the foreground.  Things appear warmer the closer they get.

Step 5:  I mix a variety of greens with the pallet knife and using my dirty brush loosely work them into position.  I grapple with the far hill and am mindful that my tones might not be as strong as I want them to be.  I lay in the sand and can't resist adding red highlights that help carry the eye around the shore line.

Step 6:  Mindful of tone I take the final photograph and make it black and white.  I see immediately that I need to add to the tonal variety of the hills, specifically making the far hills lighter.  I also see that the strong contrast created by my accidental wave is too strong.

Step 7:  At the moment there is no sense of story.  The place strongly reminds me  of Waterloo Bay at Wilson's Promontory where the only people there are hikers, and sea birds.  And so a story is beginning to form in my mind...

To be cont...

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