Friday, November 8, 2013

St. Philip Street progression

   I've pretty much reached the end of this painting. It's a fairly large painting (30" x 34.5") and I've been working on it regularly for about 2 months. An earlier post showed the prep work that went into it, but I've also documented the progression of the painting from start to finish. I've been doing this for a lot of paintings recently. Initially I thought it would just be fun to see, but for me it also provides a map of where I've been with the painting, and hopefully, where it is going. Each photo documents a painting session (give or take a few) which is usually about 3 hours. I did most of the work in the studio, but returned to the site to paint from the motif about 3 or 4 times. It's hard to do a painting this large on site... it takes a long time to set up, you're bound by weather conditions and the wind is always a disruption on rooftop paintings. At a certain point the light changes too much over the course of 2 months, so there's a lot on invention and relying on photos in the studio anyway. I think it's about as resolved as I can make it at this point, and I want to submit it for an exhibition soon. Here's the different stages with the final image when I stopped:

1st layer; washes of color over gesso. Used an actual size mock-up drawing to guide me
Thickening the layers of paint as I go; still fairly thin
Return to site, capturing the light and correcting the drawing
Adjusting the color in the studio. It's amazing the difference in color between outside and inside
Creating a surface density for the sky
Return to the site; working on the atmosphere from foreground to background
In the studio; blocking the cloud formations in from photographs
Back on site; clarifying things once more
Building the surface in the studio
Developing the clouds more; balancing 'looser' passages and 'tighter' passages
Final stage: noodling, straightening, balancing...the maddening part
   So at this point it's being put away. Sometimes when I put a painting away for awhile and bring it back out, what needs to be fixed will jump right out at me. There is a story I read about Claude Monet, who was known to want to go back into paintings after they were sold, sometimes many years later. Collectors didn't want him to view the work they had of his, because he would almost inevitably want the piece back so he could work on it more. I totally understand...a painting is never really 'finished', it is usually just stopped.

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