Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Painting's Journey, Day 2: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Work in Progress - End of Day 2
What a wonderful day for painting! The heat wave broke last night and the light breeze was flittering the leaves making interesting designs on the wood floors and after a short walk with the dog it was off to the studio.  Instead of going right to the easel I first sat down and wrote down some ideas I was having about the Cape and the dynamic connections I have with the ocean. Then I set up a new playlist of music on my iPod (Sting's Brand New Day and Dan Fogelberg's Netherlands were my favorites today) and then sat and looked at where I left off.

I really liked the preliminary draft using mainly black and white and a little red so the big decision today was whether to continue in this direction or jump and go with color. I spent more
Work in Progress - End of Day 1
than an hour at the palette and made up batches of neutrals in earth tones and a few greys with a more "cape/federal" blue tones. Then I spent time looking at the photo and decided I should mix up some oranges and a few greens.  

I took a deep breath and decided to go with color. Starting with the tree line down went dark green, then a muted ochre. I dove into the orange and went for the foreground. And then went into the soft yellow of the lighthouse and brought that forward as well. Painting all areas of the canvas at once is a great habit I picked up along the way. As I was painting the front of the houses in the federal blue shades I pulled them forward onto the fence posts and in the small house in the upper left. 

Stepping back I liked where it was going but at the same time felt like it just wasn't me. Immediately I hear the voices from the Cape saying, "Chris you really need to paint from life!" I took a break and reviewed my notes and closed my eyes and put myself at this location. What did color do to the scene? Was I just making a "pretty picture" (another kiss of death) here? 
Work In Progress - Early Day 2

When I went back to the painting I focused in on the technical issues. I realized the lighthouse needed to be "heavier" so I widened it and moved the "light" part of the lighthouse around a bit (see image to right). This decision turned out to be a bad one and I spent the next hour over working it.  Sigh.

Then, the funny thing that happens during these moments is the little things you "try" that turn out to work and become learning moments - this happened after I let this painting sit alone for awhile and worked on another one and when I came back I went to work on the top of the lighthouse - you'll notice it is still a bit distorted (in the top photo) as it changed shape a few times but enjoyed making marks with the palette knife. 

I finished up the day by starting to work on the details - the white trim of the windows, the fenceposts, adding dark blue to the roofs and back right trees. Then it 5PM and time to give it, and my feet a rest. 
There is still much to do before this is even close to finished but feel I know what it needs..while at the same time feel like I may take it in an entirely different direction. Guess I will just have to sleep on that! 


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