My Art in the Mak­ing

International Artist - - Artistic Elements: Part 4 -


With a ba­sic red, yel­low and blue bro­ken back­ground with white I lay in a gen­eral back­ground that can be made into any­thing. But made at­mo­spheric with a bit of blue at the top it looks like a non­de­script sky with some sort of land at the base one-third.


The two fig­ures I’ll use as they ap­pear. No need to re­ar­range. Some wa­ter, a bit of land in the dis­tance and shal­low wa­ter in the front, a few wan­der­ing coastal type birds and we’re in an es­tu­ary. I’m at­tracted to the women’s col­ors, their free flow, the de­signs on the dresses and the magic light drip­ping and dap­pling over them. My mul­tiuse St­ingray fan brush in ac­tion!


The over­lap of the fig­ures adds an­other in­ter­est­ing dy­namic to the com­po­si­tion—the sug­ges­tion of to­geth­er­ness and friend­ship adds emo­tion. With their size be­ing about 65 per­cent of the height of the can­vas they dom­i­nate, and with well cal­i­brated light will be very pow­er­ful against a be­nign back­drop.


The light on the fig­ures is from the left so I work in a yel­low sun­glow from that side. It sits per­fectly with the high-key mauve/blue/pink I’ve worked into the sur­round­ing sky. It’s the triad of com­ple­men­tary col­ors at work. Light will “ping” out of this!


Af­ter the fig­ures are in, I ad­just the sky, al­low­ing me to check the shape of the fig­ures. Now with my Mar­i­lyn brush I dig into all the col­ors and de­fine the shapes more. I use my “wet lay­er­ing” tech­nique to do all fig­ure work. Paint is thinned to al­most wa­ter­color con­sis­tency by adding sol­vent with 20 per­cent of lin­seed oil. Each layer thick­ens in con­sis­tency and leaves about 20 per­cent of the pre­vi­ous layer ex­posed.


The sky needs to talk to the fig­ures. I bring it more into play with stronger pulses of light from the left di­min­ish­ing to the right. The fore­ground needs to en­gage so I shape some wa­ter rip­ples and small dis­tant waves. I have the fun­da­men­tal el­e­ments of the paint­ing in place— now, it’s a ques­tion of ad­vanc­ing to­ward the fi­nal high­lights in an or­derly, ra­tio­nal way that re­sults in the fig­ures en­veloped in light driv­ing the paint­ing.


More de­tail. The paint­ing of the dress needs to be faith­ful to it. The face of the girl needs to be sug­gested to give some mean­ing while the fall­ing folds of the dress that sug­gest pos­ture and move­ment needs to be ren­dered. Like­wise, the dec­o­ra­tive dress pan­els and bunch­ing of ma­te­rial and the play of light within all this needs ex­pres­sion.

The key to the de­tail is my mag­ni­fier. With­out this aid, I sim­ply would not be able to ex­tract enough in­for­ma­tion to ren­der faith­fully what I am try­ing to paint. I would be guess­ing too much. By hav­ing the mag­ni­fier over the photo right be­side the point of paint­ing I am, with a 1-inch head move­ment, able to com­pare shapes, val­ues and dis­cover de­tail oth­er­wise guessed and most likely missed!


All high­lights are ba­si­cally in. Now to the re­flected light and the glow light through the thin dress fab­ric. Again I use the liner brush to “skid” the thin paint over the area so the tooth picks off the paint. At times I’ll use wa­tery paint to ren­der the trans­par­ent glow. Ex­per­i­ment.

I find it’s very im­por­tant to de­velop a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent strokes to get the var­i­ous looks that make for an ac­cu­rate and com­pelling ren­di­tion of the sub­ject or scene. The splash of wa­ter around the legs de­mands a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. I want frag­mented wa­ter. The Roundup or the St­ingray fan brush are my go to for this. First I de­cide on the splash line that am­pli­fies the mo­tion of the fig­ures and drive that on with a bold, loaded brush­stroke.

STAGE 8 (Con­tin­ued) The shadow be­hind the splash and the fig­ures are im­por­tant “bed­ding down” col­ors and strokes. Done ef­fi­ciently and con­fi­dently with just a few strokes, they im­part a ro­bust feel about the paint­ing.

Of­ten light needs to be ca­ressed while other times it needs to be whacked on! I try to un­der­stand the na­ture of the var­i­ous ex­pres­sions of light be­fore I start paint­ing it. Like wa­ter, it can look dead wrong or stun­ningly right. Pho­to­graphs are a huge help in de-engi­neer­ing both along with the pri­mary path­way of di­rect ob­ser­va­tion. The juicy parts of both are the most fleet­ing and they are the best to paint. Whether it be splash­ing wa­ter or shift­ing light they both are the driv­ers to great paint­ings but steep chal­lenges for the artist to un­der­stand let alone master. Home­work!

STAGE 9 Fun Times, oil, 20 x 16" (51 x 41 cm) A few sea birds bounc­ing around in the brisk breeze and the story’s told. A sim­ple ef­fec­tive paint­ing made al­most solely into some­thing by the use of light. Let there be light!

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