Friday, October 12, 2012

Charleston Rooftops

     I've got a new, larger painting going on in my studio right now. It's a view from a parking garage in downtown Charleston,  and is 25" x 34". I've wanted to do a series of paintings downtown since I moved here, in particular, scenes that depict rooftops and the architecture. I got the idea for this one on the way to an opening a few months ago. It had just rained and the light was beautiful as it was setting behind the city, a hazy blue-grey light with reflections in the puddles on the roof. I snapped a quick picture with my phone and mentally ear-marked it to return for some drawings later.

     I knew that this was going to be a complex painting, not only because of the size, but the location from where I wanted to paint. The view from the parking garage is pretty dark and there's not a lot of room to set up an easel and paint. I decided for a more synthetic approach to working on this one, a combination of drawings and photos. I might try to return to the site with the large painting or maybe do a smaller oil study...I 'll have to see how it proceeds. I started with my drawing pad made some initial compositional sketches, and took photos:

     With the photos I constructed a mock-up collage, similar to some of David Hockney's photo work from the '70s. From the same position in space, I took a series of shots with the same depth of field as I turned my head. I then mounted these on a large board of foam core and gridded it out. Between the sketches and the photo-grid, I was able to determine the size and cropping of the scene.

     I did do some bending of the space, especially the edge of the building in the foreground. In actuality the roof slants severely to the right; in fact a lot of the buildings in Charleston are askew for one reason or another, either by sagging from age or damage from earthquakes or hurricanes. The slow frontal curve of the building mimics the panoramic view and leads your eye back into the space. Here's a progression so far in the studio:

    I prefer working from observation, but in this instance, the photos have proved useful to me. First, since I have a new infant son, my working time now is mostly only at night, for about 3 hours. With my studio at home and the photos, I'm able to jump right in and paint. Plus the light is stable, and things like the clouds have been easier to develop. Things that I'm missing with the photographs: atmosphere and clarity of color. It will force me to do some inventing...
     Finally, here's the completed painting that I wrote about on the last post:

1 comment:

  1. Very nice. I was just thinking the other day that it had been a while since you posted anything. Congratulations on the new little one.