Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Woman and Doves"

Here is a painting that I did today. I took a few photos of the process so you can get an idea of how I worked this one up.
One of the choices an artist has when they begin a painting is to limit the value range that they will work in. This can greatly affect the mood of the finished piece.
My goal was to make this painting in a high value key. That means that the values are mostly light as opposed to darker. Tomorrow I hope to get a painting in a lower (darker) key that I will post here.

"Woman and Doves" Step 1

Another decision that I made before starting this one is that I wanted there to be lots of juicy and loose brushwork. So, I decided to work on this one upside down. That way I am thinking of shapes and colors and not "things". I have decided to show these first two stages upside down, just how I was seeing it when I was painting.

In step 1, I mixed up five or six shadow colors and laid those in rather quickly. I was not interested at all in details here, just getting my design blocked in with some nice variety of color. Notice that none of these colors are very dark in value. They actually look a little darker here than they really are because of all that white linen that they are being compared to. I love painting reflected light, and this scene had some nice light bouncing around on those buttresses.

"Woman and Doves" Step 2

In Step 2, I started to add the light family of colors. Again, I mixed up a handful of subtle color variations on my palette first so I could compare them to each other before committing them to the painting. Since I wanted this painting to have a loose look, these strokes needed to be put on and left alone.
Here is where I began to really work my edges leaving some hard and softening others. I am still working on the painting upside down. I did not start painting the color of the woman's clothes yet. I wanted to get most of my subtle colors down first so I could compare my color choices to the colors that are going to be around her in the finished painting.

"Woman and Doves" , 14" x 18" oil on linen, 2007
Private Collection

Here is the finished painting. I wanted the woman to be the center of interest, so that is where I put the brightest colors and some of the hard edges. I also added the doves here at the end so I could just lay them in loosely and not disturb them by trying to paint around them. I was careful where I placed them. I think that they add to the movement from left to right in the painting.

Detail "Woman and Doves"

I don't know why, but with blogger, it seems that the colors are always better when you click on the paintings and see the larger version. They are closer to the actual colors of the paintings.


Ed Terpening said...

Wow, it's wonderful seeing this one in work. Beautiful painting.

Ambera said...

Wow, I love it. Clicking on the detail is well worth it, you have a beautiful eye for those large, abstract blocks of colour. There are such subtle differences in tone and value, and they're well realized. This is a gorgeous painting, and I LOVE seeing the progress steps.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Ed and Ambera. I appreciate your comments.
I'm glad that you liked the step by step in this one.

FCP said...

This is a gorgeous piece--thanks for sharing the process in photos, and explaining how you pre-mix the values.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks for the kind words Faye. I'm trying to get to that lower value keyed painting today.

Unknown said...

This is great! Thanks for sharing your process. I ound it really interesting that you paint upside down so you can see the shapes and forms. I think that's a great idea. Something I do that is similer is to view my pictures through a mirror. This gives me a fresh look at what I'm doing. I find reflected light difficult and appreciate the tips. The final piece is really amazing.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Eric, I'm glad to see that you got your computer up and running again. The mirror is the same idea, but your eye still sees "things" and not just "shapes".
I just worked out the blogger bug with the downloading pictures, so You can click on them now and see the enlargement in the browser. The way it is supposed to.

Frank Gardner said...

If anyone is interested. This link will give you the workaround code for fixing that downloading problem.

Mike said...

When I read your blogs, Frank, I always feel like you and I could sit and talk for hours! We seem to have a similar bent when it comes to design!

This is a terrific painting! Big expanses, like that big wall, are more difficult than folks realize. They gotta be interesting to look at and set the stage for the center of interest. Nice work!

Frank Gardner said...

That made my day Mike. I agree, we seem to have similar ideas on a lot of things, but different enough to keep it interesting.
You are right on about those big "empty" spaces. They need to be interesting but not so much that they take away from the main players. Hard to do.
I was lucky on this one.

Anonymous said...

The teeny shadow of the woman cast partially onto the wall of the church. Oh, stunning! And the doves...........

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks again Solveg!