Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How do you do that?

People are often surprised at what my paintings look like to begin with.  I usually start out with a really loud color like orange or pink.  While this looks crazy at first, this technique will give the painting a warm glow when I'm finished adding all the layers.  Here's an example of my latest commission work for Richard and Mason.  (Thank you Richard!)  This is a picture of the marsh scene at a river house.

First, I started with a translucent layer of vibrant orange. I also used some brushwork to draw into the orange.  To do this, I simply put some mineral spirits on a brush or a rag and then wiped away the orange to lighten it.

Next I added in the clouds. I love the clouds! I intentionally left some of the underpainting so that it would peek through the clouds and sky to give it a warm glow. When adding the clouds, I worked from dark to light. Here, the darks aren't that dark, so I just used sky blue to darken the contour lines.

Then I brought in the darks for the distant tree line across the water.  I made sure that I still left some of the original bright orange color peeking through at the skyline.

The water and dock came next.

Finally I added the green and yellow marshy grasses on top. All of these colors (except for the orange) are mixed on my palette so that the painting doesn't look "straight from the tube." The tube colors are a starting point that the artist needs to refine and re-state. I also went back and forth into the clouds and sky to sharpen or blur lines as I went.

Ta-da! That's how I paint after many years of careful observation and lost of practice. The colors in the last piece look much brighter because I took the picture outside in natural light instead of the dim light of my studio.  Mason and Richard, I hope you love this as much as I do! Thank you so much for your commission!