Sunday, 13 March 2011

A Year Painting

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It has been almost a year since I last posted, I didn't want to repeat myself too much so I left it until I had something useful to say again.  Recently I got a new camera which has video capabilities and I've been experimenting with different ways of recording the creative process, with some exciting results playing with time-lapse photography.  I'll be posting them here soon.

The time lapse photography came out of my attempts at taking progress shots to document the process of doing a painting.  I finally got hold of a tripod, which enables me to take much better progress shots  (I had until then been propping my camera on shelves and tables in order to take photos of my paintings).  I painted a few scenes of Salamanca and took lots of photos as I painted and uploaded dozens of them on flickr.  Now I look at them I see that it's quite tricky to see what I've changed between the photos, a bit like a game of spot the difference.  For the painting of my boss and myself at the English school where I teach I took less photos and it's a bit clearer to see what I changed between photos.  If you want to see the Salamanca paintings and try to spot the difference, click on the painting thumbnails on the right side of this blog and it will take you to flickr.  Here I've included the steps for the painting of Cristina and me at work, it took me about a week to paint.  Click on an image to jump to a larger version.

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I had been wanting to paint something with lots of detail so I picked a photo of my boss and myself at work and set about drawing a grid on the canvas.  I then transferred the whole image square by square from my computer screen in pencil, fixing it with hairspray as I went (see flickr for more photos of the steps).

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A yellow wash
Then to dull some of the pencil lines and bring some unity to the painting I put down a wash of yellow.  The paint was thinned with white spirit so as not to completely hide the underdrawing.

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Putting in the darkest and lightest areas
To help your to eye gauge the tones of the painting right it's a good idea to put the extremes in at an early stage. 

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Getting the main colours in the right place
All the hues your eye sees are also altered by their proximity to other tones so the next step is to roughly get the colours right.

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More detail
Now comes the hard work, at this point the energy I started the with is beginning to wane and the painting is looking not as good as I hoped, but paintings often feel this way at some point so I hang in there.

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Balancing the elements
It's starting to look a bit better as I begin to balance all the tones and the hues with each other and cover more of the yellow underpainting.

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Final touches
Finally I bring the painting all together with a bit of fine tuning and a lot of squinting.  If I worked on it a bit more then I could probably make it look more real but I am by now very sick of looking at it.

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