Monday, November 12, 2007

How to make a painting

Recently, I mentioned to my First Mate that I was now blogging. In HER blog, ( she started to brag about my "many talents" and I thought, "Gee. Why not share a little about the other side of my life... the side not directly related to boat reconstruction?" So, I offer here a little diversion:
One day we went walking through the park in downtown Guaymas and I started taking photos. Once downloaded to my computer I started pawing through the images for A STORY. Paintings can be hard work, time consuming, frustrating! Don't waste your time making something that just matches the curtains or the new sofa. Tell a story. And in one of my 8 or 10 photos, I found a Mexican Car Wash... look carefully at the center of the above photo.

I printed out a color version of the area I wanted to create and transferred the image to a canvasboard. The first step is to use a wash of thinner and oil paints to establish shadows, large areas of color, skin tints... the works. I often find that as I progress through the painting, some of these washed-in areas are perfect the way they are... I just leave them alone.

Then I start mixing paint and dabbing in the regions I want to define: the characters in my story... This is when I may experiment with changing the colors of clothing, cars, whatever... that needs to be either brought in the foreground or pushed back because it doesn't add to the story. In this case, I didn't change much. I did, however,  make the car a brighter red to create a focal point in the center of the composition.

In the version above I thought that maybe the iron lampposts would look good as wrought iron black, but as you can see, they seemed a bit overpowering and I moved back to white... something you can do in oils. In watercolors, you're stuck with what you put down first most of the time.

Here also, you can see that I am working in a triadic primary palette. The blue, yellow and red dominate the color space and really bring the scene to life... 

The strong shadows in the background emphasize the brightness of the day, the warmth of the climate, the clarity and quality of the light in Mexico.

A few more hours of detail work and the "Mexican Car Wash" will be ready for framing and a place on my wall.


1st Mate said...
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1st Mate said...

Hey, wanna play a blogging game? Tag, you're it. Go to if you want in. If you don't, no problem.