It has been a very long time since I updated this area of the blog showing you what is in progress on the easel. I have had projects, drawings and paintings on there but did not take the time to write about them. Weren’t writing years I guess.
For the past while, I have been focused on storm images. I am very attracted to them for reasons I’ll be sorting out over the next few weeks and for the moment I’ll say they are an expression of freedom and beauty.
Right after the pandemic settled in I was, like many of us, asked to stay home from my day job at the art gallery and had time and space to work on something new in the studio. It was a complicated time emotionally. I was deeply relieved to suddenly have loads of creative time, which in my regular life is not available in loads, but the cause of the time and space was overwhelming. The storm images and ideas I had been collecting for years had the energy of the moment and so were the first thing I turned my attention to and I began to draw…
These are charcoal and contè on rag and small, about 11 x 14″.
In the months since the pandemic I have had to turn my attention to some other projects and return to work at the gallery but this focus on storms is still developing and I have begun some small scale oil paintings on linen. The two shown here are 12 x 24″.
Below are some photos of the early stages, drawing with charcoal a simple contour, then the first layer of oil straight from the tube. You can see the grid that helps me organize the composition from my references, which come from old public domain photos from the weather service in the states.
The next stage will be to begin using glazes and painting into layers of medium once this underpainting is dry in a few days.
Thank you for reading and more next week…
The work of the past two weeks has been developing the depth of the setting, and establishing the finished values of the work. By values I mean the darks and lights of all the hues in the painting. The image has many shades of white but when it comes to paint none of it is painted with just white at all. To help me do this I use a paper value finder and Photoshop’s grayscale slider. I sample a spot on the computer image I am working on, see its value and adjust the paint to match the same value on the paper scale. It seems complicated but it is a method I came to because it is impossible to judge the paint on my brush next to the source image when using a computer screen. I think those that paint will understand what I mean. There is further balancing to do because I am not always copying the source image value for value, often I am measuring value ranges instead. If you have any questions I can elaborate in another post.
In these pictures you can see how the space has been developed so that there is depth behind the figure going into a back room and window.
I have also mixed the final colours for the flesh and clothing and so this is the focus from here on in. Once the figure is done there will be a final few hours glazing shadows, light in shadows and highlights on the furniture and shoes. This all should be done within a week or two from now.
Here are a couple of images showing the progress of particular spots.
The wall behind was darkened and the shadows and reflections on the floor added.
The bannisters and window behind are all complete.
These final hours of the painting are the most satisfying because after all of this building up most of the magic of illusion happens with the final touches. Hopefully this will show in the final photos I’ll post over the next while.
So, the note on the last post said I thought I would be finished this next stage in a week-oh my! Three weeks since I posted and the under painting is pretty much complete, all the board is covered in paint and the drawing is no longer visible.
I have made some adjustments along the way, changing some of the scale and measurements but it seems perfect now to begin the final layers of paint. It still appears pretty “flat” because there aren’t yet any glazed shadows and highlights added. The structure is set and now the illusion will really start to take shape. The transitions and edges between colours and values are still clumsy looking and so this is a major focus from here on in.
In these two above you can see that I am still re-measuring and correcting the drawing as I paint.
And here you can see where I have begun to add more colour to the bottom paint layer. For instance, the hands are richer than the knee which is still the first layer with limited colour.
It has been very valuable to show my progress to you as it is making me aware of things I am doing that are habit but not necessary(I think). I’m taking notes and look forward to refining my technique on the next pieces.
I’ll post a little more frequently through this next stage as the work gets closer to being finished.
For now though, enjoy if you are interested!