Monday, September 28, 2015

Photo, Study, Painting

Briefly, my process...

Starting with a reference photo, I talk to myself about why I want to paint this scene. This is a photo of Roberts Road in our town of Black Diamond. It is on the route between my Grandma Benedetti's house (she is long gone but the house remains) and the cemetery where she and my aunts and uncles are buried. Now that we have moved to this area, I drive this road often on my way to the post office and library. I have built-in emotion for the scene. I like the way the road dips as it goes over the creek that is bordered by lush foliage of native trees and brush. I like the way the house on the left peeks through. I like the tops of the trees - big and loose. I like the grasses and shadows and most importantly, I can imagine painting this scene. But, I also can easily envision how I might become immersed in detail and include too much detail with small sharp strokes or the spattering I have become so fond of. I know the formula that works: Start with the large shapes and work to the detail but be sensitive and aware of WHEN TO WALK AWAY before it becomes labored and picky.

I'm a big fan of small studies as you may have noticed on my Daily Paintworks Gallery. I use the studies to work out composition, value, color, etc. So before embarking on a 13 x 13 inch finished painting of this scene, I painted a small study and as I write this it is in its final hours on the Daily Paintworks. Sold

I cropped the reference photo scene to a square format and painted (quickly and with abandon) my interpretation of the scene. Got the dip in the road, got the loose, breezy trees, put in an indication of the building. I like it!  I like it so much that Study#2 of this scene is not going to happen so I moved on to my larger painting. The paper of both paintings is my new favorite, Pastelmat but I didn't have a large enough piece of the same color so I chose a warmer hue for the larger painting. Pastelmat doesn't have a deep tooth to hold lots of pastel so I laid in the big dark shapes of the trees with an oil wash. I would love to be able to make the bold strokes of color that appear in the small study but I am limited by the width of my pastel sticks.

Roberts Road, Black Diamond, WA - pastel - 13 x 13 inches
Several things changed in the larger painting - the most obvious is that there is more emphasis on the road instead of on the house. I saw this happening and was OK with it. It is up to each artist to decide what they learned from their study and how closely they choose to follow it in the finished painting. Overall, it has a more finessed look but I stopped myself before including much detail. This painting is scheduled for a show at Scott Milo Gallery, Anacortes, WA in Dec 2015/Jan 2016.