Did you ever have a day where you got a lot done, but on projects you never anticipated? Today was like that. Not only did I get all the dishes done and cleaned the oven to make 'cheesy bagels,' rearranged the living room/painting area... I wound up working on a painting that has been hanging on the wall for months.
It started when I woke up. I was excited about having a day off, my holiday to-do list finished, and my bills paid. Nothing to keep me from what I wanted to do... which is art, of course. I did a wise thing and decided not to decide which piece of art I was going to work on until the piece of art made itself known to me. As I was getting my breakfast, I was looking at The Musketeer. The painting has been hanging on the wall, not sure what I wanted to do with the background. I didn't want to just copy what was in the reference photos, especially since the photos I was referring to had many other figures and elements, and I wanted to focus on the single figure. Neither did I want to just put in some generic, flat background.
I knew that if I just let it hang there and the ideas percolated, in time the right idea would present itself to me. And this morning, it did. It started with the general and worked its way to the specific. At first I just had an idea of the overall feel of the space around the figure. Then I had a flash of artistic vision; I could clearly see the relationship of the figure to the background. At this point, I still did not know exactly what the background was going to be, but I had a precise vision of how it would relate to the figure. I let the idea stew while I did a few quick thumbnail sketches to explore the possibilities. Then I set about the research.
Usually, this is where I get sidetracked. But today, I kept looking, kept on track, and kept gathering information. I looked up set design for every Musketeer movie ever made, classic paintings, buildings, and period props, until I had the information that I needed. And there were a couple of set designs that really sparked ideas.
Then came the scary part. After taunting me for months, I had to make marks on the canvas, which had been hanging there unchanged for all that time. I started with colored pencil, and 'found' my way into the design. Pretty soon, it came together and I could see clearly where it was going.
Next came the paint, thin and neutral. I am just laying in the structure. Later I will build up the lights and adjust the color.
And now, I have the figure placed in an environment - but not just any environment, but one that is congruent with the lighting conditions of the figure.
The progress was small but significant. I still have a long way to go, but now I have a clear vision of where I am going with the painting.
Here is the Step-by-step of today's progress.
|Step 1 - draw in the outlines|
|Step 2 - Light-facing planes|
|Step 3 - Planes facing |
away from the light source
(nasty reflection from
the wet paint.)
|Step 4 - Pull it all together |
final step for now