Saturday, July 11, 2015

Porch at night

     I've had this idea for a painting of our porch for a few years now. It's a space we use a lot, mostly in the Spring and the Fall, when it's neither too hot or too cold outside. I started doing drawings for this one in March, testing out a few different angles and sizes in my sketchbook:
sketchbook 9" x 12"
sketchbook 9" x 12"
     This last drawing is larger and I experimented with having a figure in it. Painter John Hull came to my studio at the start of this painting and he told me how he makes cut outs of figures on paper and moves them around within a drawing of the space he is painting. I tried this with my daughter posing on the bench, but I felt that the space would seem too crowded with a figure.

pencil, 21" x 18"
     In my interiors, I've been investigating these near and far spaces, and the porch offered a perfect stage for this indoor/outdoor space. I was interested also in how different light is portrayed in a single image; string lights vs. fading sunset, warm interior space verses cool outdoor space. The composition ordered itself symmetrically, but I was interested in how the triangles re-iterated themselves and how your eye bounced around the patterns. The symmetry deflected at times by the thrust of the table and glow of the drawing on the easel.
      From the drawings I blocked in the darks on a toned linen canvas. I took progression shots along the way, usually after each painting session: 

   The table in the foreground was initially empty, but one night while I was set up painting, my wife walked through from outside and placed the flowers in the vase on the table. I put them in quickly that night, perfectly serving as a counterpoint to my daughters drawing on the easel across from it.
     The painting slowly built up over a long period of time, the sweet spot of the session being when I raced to set things up so I could get those 15 minutes of purple/blue light as the sun finally sunk. Trees in the distance dissolving into fuzzy silhouettes against the sky.  I worked on this one vigorously over 3 or 4 months, usually about twice a week for 2-3 hours at a time. As the painting went on, I started working more and more without the motif, in my studio, tweaking things here and there, building up the surface and marks. Here's the finished version:
oil on linen, 22" x 24"