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Sunday, May 8, 2011

What's on the easel? ...cont.

Last week I showed you these two paintings that are currently on my easel. I also revealed the procedure I followed to get them to this point.
The painting on top remains as it is. I have been concentrating on the development of the Italian scene. As you can see, it is beginning to take shape.
Early in my career I did a few paintings using this monochromatic under painting technique, but eventually cast it aside in favor of a more direct method of painting...mixing the correct color and value at the same time.
A few years ago, Warren Chang wrote a wonderful 8-part series for International Artist titled, "Pursuing an artist's life behind the easel". In the series he demonstrated his use of this technique as a precursor to the application of color. I guess I had arrived at a point in my career that I was ready for a change...and also had come to realize the great importance of achieving an organized, clear value structure for each painting.
I am often asked just how often I employ this technique. I would say on most studio paintings this is the way I work, particularly if the painting is very complex. Periodically, I even use this raw umber block-in technique for plein air work. One thing for certain, I believe it has strengthened my paintings. It is also a useful tool in manipulating the compositional design because the values can be adjusted so easily with no concern for color.
Once the values are set in the monochromatic block-in, I try to adhere pretty closely to them as I begin to apply color. The palette selected for this painting is: titanium white, cobalt blue, cadmium red, cadmium yellow pale, and lemon yellow. The colors I considered most important for this painting were the reds, oranges, and greens. By choosing a warm red and two yellows, it allowed for a nice variety of warm hues. Cobalt blue, which I call a neutral blue, mixed with the yellows, oranges and red provide a beautiful variation of greens.
I began applying color to the white building in the center, and proceeded outward from that point. There's a considerable amount of work to be done before this painting is ready to be signed. I have just begun working on the water and have hardly touched the background.
This is the stage of the painting as of today. I will put it aside for now and work on the train piece this week. I desaturated the painting above in photoshop, just to make sure it still reads well. So far, I think I'm still on track.
I'll keep you posted.



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