Painting Demonstration: Part I

I thought I'd share some information here about my painting process in the studio. It has been raining and snowing for what has seemed like weeks here, so the photography may not be the best. The colors may not appear exact but hopefully these pictures will be sufficient to give you some idea of how the image looks.

Here is my inspiration photo. This is a picture I took with my digital camera when I was in Tuscany in the springtime. We stayed in Montalcino, in the southern part of Tuscany, and we drove all over this and neighboring areas. I think I must have taken about 1000 photos in all. I like using digital pictures because you can delete on site and don't need to worry about film. Plus, back home I can zoom in on details and see them directly in my computer monitor without having to go through the expense of printing the images unless I really want to. My photos are pretty amateurish, but I use them more as digital records to jog my memory of what I saw and sketched while I was there. The actual digital file for this photo is much larger, allowing me much more detail in the studio:

What I like about this scene: I love the lines and the layers of textures. What I want to emphasize. The buildings on the right and the olive trees in the foreground. What I will want to change: I'll reverse the direction of the lines in the front vineyard so that they don't lead your eye straight out of the painting. I will also simplify the buildings, both in the foreground and in the distance; leaving in what I feel to be important and taking out what I feel is distracting.

Here is a quick sketch of the scene that I will use to work out what I'm thinking about:

Okay, before you say anything, I can draw better than this! This is just a quickie sketch - a throw away drawing to cement in my mind what I want to focus on in the painting. It would be better if I had drawn a more rectangular shape, as this is the format I will use for my painting, but I just grabbed what was on hand at the moment of inspiration. As you can see from this drawing, I am still working out the composition. That grouping of cypress trees is right in the middle of the photo, but I will experiment with some other placements. My objective is to make an interesting painting that expresses my impressions and feelings about this beautiful land that I visited, not to make an exact copy of a photograph. While I want to be true to the subject, my first commitment is to paint a dynamic and harmonious landscape.

Starting: Nowadays I mostly paint on white canvases, though some times I still tone them with a quick wash of raw sienna or alizarin crimson. I mix alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue, and with this I draw with a round bristle brush just a quick layout of my composition.



I'll lay in the sky because this is usually the lightest/brightest part of the picture. I don't get into a lot of detail here because I want to keep it loose and things are still subject to change. However, I do want to have a road map in place, so to speak. My next step will be to start blocking in the painting and laying out my color. In the coming days I will post my progress on this painting...stay tuned!