Full Disclosure

“New Haven “- the painting posted a few days ago was well-received, which was gratifying, since a lot of time and work went into it.  Today’s post will give a glimpse of the various stages if its creation.  If you’re not too interested in the “how-to” stuff, then come back in a couple days for some brand new animal drawings.  Meanwhile…

The process is starting to feel pretty familiar.  It all starts with a photograph:


What do you notice about this picture?

  1. Yep.  It’s black-and-white.  I like to use these because it prevents me from simply copying the pic.  At the very least, I have to make some original color choices.
  2. The kids – and there’s three of ’em – are in slightly different poses.
  3. And the focal point of this photo happens to be the big man who doesn’t even appear in my painting…

You can see the choices and modifications I was already making in the initial sketch:




Besides the notes, this sketch is pretty darn near the layout of the finished illustration.  The main difference is the lack of the ocean vessel on the horizon.  That stroke of inspiration came later.

Next, I completed a color study to get a little practice, and to test out the color relationships that might work.  As it turned out, this little sketch looked pretty darn good.  The handling of the paint is very loose, but I really wish I would have more closely replicated this more weathered, yellowed color scheme in the final pass.

The full-sized painting started with another pencil sketch lending structure.  Then the main color areas start getting roughed-in.  You can see the letters on the row boat are a funny color.  That’s because they are masked with that gum solution at the time this photo was snapped.  As you may recall, this keeps the paint off the covered area until the masking solution is removed.

A lot happened from the previous stage to this one.  More detail.  Deeper shadows.  Some more successful than others.  For better or worse, the picture is nearing completion.

At this point, I’d already tried – unsuccessfully once or twice – to get the nearer kid’s facial features right.  Frustrated, I left the picture in the studio and went on vacation to New York for a few days.  When I came back, the last few steps became more obvious.

I did another pencil sketch to practice the kid’s face before tackling the actual painting.  Then, I added some contrasting colors to various parts of the background: a light wash of blue amidst the reddish sand of the middle ground, some ruddy redness to the yellow of the foreground, some deeper colors to the sky.

The shadows on the lettering were deepened and some more wood grain added to the boat.  Then it was time to quit before things got muddy.

Painting is a strange combination of activity and waiting, of taking twists and turns along the way.  Not all of them are the right turns, but you learn to live with your choices and try to make better and better ones each time.

This entry was published on September 17, 2012 at 10:03 pm and is filed under Drawings, Figures, The Artistic Process. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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