This post is a simple step by step, these are rather annoying to do as you have to remember to take regular pictures. I tend to get carried away with the painting and then the whole thing is no use as three steps are missing. This time I managed it though. I must get better lighting for this sort of thing, at present it takes ages to adjust every image until they are more of less true. Enough intro, on with the painting.
Here is my starting point, a view in Saumur. I also have a plein air done on my recent visit.
This was about an hours work so quite rushed but there are elements I wish to use from both.
First comes the drawing out, I am not trying to produce a pretty drawing I just want the relevant information. This stage is very important as by
going over the whole image you can take a measure of the job in hand and start to work out what can be left out.
Here we are all transferred. I print my line drawing to size then use Tracedown which is non greasy to draw it on. I am using a grey brown ground which
will give me a mid tone to start from. Canvas size is 18in by 14in.
Taking just three tones I start first with the shadow areas. I keep the paint very thin and dry. Every now and again I lay kitchen towel over it to absorb
any thick or wet paint. This is known as “Tonking” after the painter of the same name.
Next stage, I have laid in the sky in three tones which are then patched together. I don’t blend with a fan I just drop strokes either side of the colour
boundaries. Too smooth and the surface looses life and vibrancy. I have also knocked in the shadow colour for the trees and the white houses.
Next comes the lit surfaces. I am all the time trying to choose a base hue that is the middle tone for an area. That is to say if a building front goes from
white to a pale ochre to a slightly greyer darker ochre, then I lay in the middle hue so I can accent it darker or lighter later on. This is a very important
stage since I am establishing both my atmospheric perspective and for the first time I can “see” my image taking shape.
Another step forward. I am systematically working from large areas to small. So far I have only used two brushes both the same size one for mid and
light, the other for dark. I never move to a smaller brush until I am done with the areas that can be dealt with at that size. It is all to easy to start working
away with a tiny brush on areas that are too large, which is time consuming and produces a poor paint surface. Also I don’t mix another hue unless I
absolutely have to. The colours I am using are: Titanium White,Crimson lake, Viridian, Ultramarine Blue, Yellow Ochre Deep, Cadmium Yellow Light and
Paynes Grey. All are Michael Hardings.
Now I have dropped a size and am creating half tones with the already mixed colours. I have also started “grounding” the cars with a stronger dark.
Again I am just defining things enough to bring the whole thing more into focus, I don’t want to add unnecessary detail.
Almost there, I am adding detail to the lit facades. If you look back to the photo you can see I am leaving a lot out and I am trying to add all elements in
single clean strokes of the brush. For straight lines I am running the rigger down a mahl stick.
Here we are all done for now, about 4 hrs work in all, including photos. I have left all the darkest darks and the lightest lights until the very last thing.
Looking at this on screen there are a few things I will adjust when it’s dry, the figures need tweaking and I don’t like the grass in the road much.
I may also glaze a few areas to adjust the hue here and there. Picture above can be clicked for larger view.
Well it’s next day. Do you know the expression “The cold light of day”? For painters the mornings can be quite chilly! When you look at a painting
first thing the day after you have a moment to see it afresh. Though this is often depressing it is very valuable because you see underlying errors.
What I saw this morning was that the whole righthand side needed freshening up and the far right building was much too dominant. So I added a
shadow to act as a full stop and send the eye back into the painting and repainted the facades with fresher colour. The other thing was the figures
drew the eye too much so I made them more incidental. I also re photographed it under natural light so the colours above are truer to the original.
The foreground shadow got softened too, but after I photographed it so it doesn’t show here! Picture above can be clicked