Thursday, January 31, 2008

Winding Way, Step 5

Color lay-in, part 2

Winding Way color lay-in-continued
I continued laying in the color, refining the drawing as I went along. Nothing is finished at this point. I think there are some vertical lines that are not yet exactly right. The red shutters are from the burnt umber under-painting: the house actually has dark green shutters.

With a magnifying glass, I scrutinized carefully all the photos of the house that were taken in the 60's. Since then, the second story and ground floor porches have been changed. My client understandably wants the painting to reflect how it was when he lived there. You can see the difference in the photos that I took with the way the color lay-in appears.

I said in my last blog, that my paintings speak to me. This one has said that the stark lines of the porte cochere need to be broken up with cast shadows from unseen trees.

Tomorrow I hope to finish the color lay-in. Check my blog again on Saturday to see what progress I made.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Winding Way, Steps 1-4

I have a house portrait commission to do and I want to share the process and progress with you. This was the childhood home of my client, filled with many cherished memories, but he has not lived there since the 1960's. It is possible that this magnificent home will be torn down in the not too distant future.

Step 1: The photographs

The first thing I did was to photograph the home so I would have a record of how it looks today. I chose a sunny day so that I would have good light and shadow contrasts. I took many photos at many different angles: some closeups as well as distant shots. Below are two views of the house. The client chose the second view as the best. I used Photoshop to correct the camera distortion as best as possible.

Winding Way photo

Winding Way photo
After the client chose the image above, I printed it out, pasted it on a board, and painted in the background, as I imagined it would be. The client has supplied me with many old photos showing the grounds, plantings, trees, bushes, etc.

Winding Way color sketch
Step 2: The color sketch

The sketch below is proportionate to the final painting. It is considered a "quarter study," in that it's area is one-quarter the size of the final painting. In this case, the final painting will be a 20 x 30, so this "quarter study" is 10 x 15. I e-mailed a jpeg of it to my client for his approval.

Winding Way color sketch
Step 3: The burnt-umber underpainting

After my client approved the sketch, I doubled the size of the print and traced it onto the canvas. I corrected the perspective and the distortion that the camera had made. Since my lines were barely visible, I went over all the faint lines with burnt umber using a very fine brush and blocked in some darker values with larger brushes. This produced the burnt-umber under painting that you see below. You will note that the foreground tree has disappeared. I think I like it better without it, but time will tell. This is where I let the painting speak to me.

At this point, my client and his wife came to my studio to approve the underpainting. We discussed some changes that had been made to the house that departed from the original structure. I explained that making changes at this point in the process was a lot easier than later on.

Winding Way color lay-in
Step 4: The color lay-in (part one)

Yesterday I began laying in the color, beginning with the sky, worked down through the background trees, and did a little of the house where it touched the trees. This color lay-in is quite rough...nothing is finished on it.

Tomorrow I will try to complete the color lay-in, but there is a lot of picky detail in the house to deal with. I don't want to lose my drawing, so I will have to be very careful and take my time. I may not get it all done.

Check back late Thursday and see.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Autumn at Point of Rocks, last step

Finishing the painting

autumn at point of rocks
I realized the reflections weren’t exactly true to the
background trees, so I carefully adjusted them. As a final touch I added three geese swimming in the river. I had to lighten the reflection from the yellow tree to make the geese stand out.

I also lightened the dark areas on the far shore: the shadow areas as well as the reflected areas.

I signed my name in the lower left corner, and will hang this at American Painting Fine Art in DC at the Potomac River School exhibition in April. Details will be found on the calendar page of my website when they become available.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Point of Rocks, step 4

More refinements

point of rocks step 4
The tips of the green-gold trees in the backround were practically in a straight line, so I adjusted them for better visual interest.

I added sky holes to the trees to let the birds fly through. I developed the sky reflections working with sideways strokes to simulate the broken reflection. I brightened the lights more and added streaks of sky reflections into the water areas. I also added some leaves floating on the water.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Point of Rocks, step 3

Painting the foreground

point of rocks
I developed the large trees on the left, added more branches, lightened and brightened the right edge of the foreground tree so it would stand out from the background trees. I added more branches and limbs that had washed up on the island.

I developed the reflections both of the trees in the distance as well as the foreground tree. I realized that the yellow tree was stiff, so I lowered the large left branch, making it more graceful. In the background, I added more red to the trees for contrast.

The title will be Autumn at Point of Rocks.