Work in Progress – the First Dabs of Paint
Now that I’ve done the prep work (selected the reference photo, painted the canvas red, and outlined the image on the canvas in chalk), the painting finally begins in earnest.
All artists get asked the question: “How long does it take to paint one of your paintings?” This is one of those pesky, difficult-to-answer questions because “painting a painting” isn’t very well defined. Or at least for me it isn’t. Do you count the time it took me to paint the canvas red? The time it took to draw the chalk grid on the canvas? How about the days spent hiking and taking digital photos? How about the hours spent cropping, rotating, editing, and printing out all the digital photos that never got used (along with the one chosen for the painting)?
Anyway, the one part that everyone can agree should be counted is the time spent standing at the easel, paintbrush in hand, actually putting dabs of colored paint on the canvas. This is the good stuff! This is painting!
Not surprisingly, when you paint with dots and smallish slashes of almost-random color (as I do) the beginning stages of “real” painting don’t look like much. Almost random, really. But there is a method to the madness.
First off, I need to reinforce my “roadmap”. Those chalk lines are a temporary guide and need to be made permanent with paint. Areas that are in shadow need to be blocked in as a darker color. Horizons, hilltops, and folds in the land need to be indicated so I don’t lose their place.
The other thing I start doing right away is using interesting colors. If I know a field of dry grass will eventually be a yellowish color, I might start out by putting some lavender color in, just to give the yellow something to contrast with. If the sky is blue, maybe I’ll paint some orange or yellow up there so the blue will vibrate against it and look all the more vibrant.
Of course, the one color I can’t paint is red. It’s already all over the canvas! If I were to try painting red, it would disappear against the background. So, this constrains me in a way.
Next: filling in the gaps.