Thursday, December 8, 2011

How to "Build a Painting" (A work in Progress)

People ask "how do you do that"? Today, I decided to share a bit about how I construct a painting.

I've been working on prepared panel recently in lieu of linen. Neither one is better than the other, but I can achieve certain optical effects on panel more easily than on linen - most especially the illusion of transparent layers of light, which is important for me in my landscape work.

I began this by laying in a very, very light pencil drawing. Almost no detail, I concentrate on the composition, perspective, as well as the size and placement of all the major value planes. Value planes? Yes, that's how I begin, I don't even really think about "a cloud goes here, a tree goes there" I'm really considering how the values (light and dark) and their shapes are going to play against each other and I'm always asking "is this too big or small next to the other value plane".

I usually also tone my canvas, for landscape I do a wash of Transparent Red Iron Oxide and then let it dry before I begin. But I was eager to begin this painting, and went straight into the white surface. I began with the sky and how the light was flowing from the mid region of the right side of the panel. The entire plane of the sky (not including the clouds) was laid in, blended (oh there was a lot of blending with this sky!) and then the clouds were laid in. Afterwards I worked on the tree line and began the grassy field. As you can see, everything at this point is "uber-soft" and very very hazy, and that's just how I want it for right now. It's impossible to make a hard edge soft when you go back into a dry painting, but quite easy to make a soft line hard.

Anyway, that's how it all begins, more to come . . .

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