My Art in the Making #2
STAGE 1 A horizon about midway will give me a good look at the story of two figures I have in mind. I use the fan brush to block in, taking my lead from the colors in the photo. STAGE 2 After that initial flurry I quickly go to a blue-tinted grey for the upper sky, while closer to the horizon the grey shifted slightly into a red grey. I throw in a bold, high value yellow grey for some clouds. Using these colors I drop down into the wet sand and fashion in the grey that is reflected by this mirror zone. All this done in six to seven minutes. STAGE 3 I add a dark headland and bring some of the color into the waves and vice versa by throwing some of the water blue into the above landform. Knowing the water is also a reflective surface to the sky I bring the sky colors into the water with broken horizontal strokes. Where it thins to the beach I shape some gentle waves jumping to a near white on the sand itself for a swash wave. STAGE 4 Like the previous painting I don’t develop this “landscape” any further but go quickly to putting in the figures. With a rag I wipe away the paint to clear the area for the first and dominant figure. STAGE 5 With the Marilyn liner brush I sketch in and block the figure. I am about 40 minutes into the painting and make each stroke purposeful and as accurate as I can. Since this is the initial layer I will most likely drift outside the imaginary outline of the figure but as everything is still wet I will have no problem cutting back to the correct the excess. STAGE 6 Since the paint is very thin—like watercolor—it hardens quickly, so after a short time I’m able to go in again with the first shadows and highlights to further develop the figure. As I do this I walk back the magical 10 feet, squint and assess my progress. This is the distance to judge your effectiveness at the easel—not at 3 feet! All my figure work is one with the help of my magnifier. This is the must-have in my toolbox. STAGE 7 I repeat the same process for the second figure. The march to the end involves about three layers of shadow and highlight, but between each I return to the surrounding parts of the painting and detail them in both shape and value. It’s important to bring the surrounds out at the same time as the figures and to make sure, by walking back the 10 feet, the figures always dominate. Add the birds and presto—just under 2 hours—a pretty good painting! How much grey? About 65 percent and of that about 30 percent a slight mauve.