I haven't done this in a long time on the blog, show a work in progress, but here's one to share. This is a large painting 40x30, on gallery wrap canvas. While I do work rapidly and for large blocks of time, 40x30 is large enough that it will take me several days to get this done. Particularly since on Monday I teach and won't have much time to be in the studio painting.
This painting is destined to be a beautiful Tuscan poppy field. Yes, yes for those of you who have been waiting for a really large poppy painting this is it! LOL Since we have been talking about edge ratio I am keeping that in mind, and referred to that concept as I was sketching out the design and will revisit it near the end as i pull the final version together. My preliminary work for a painting even one this large is rather loose with some things being committed to the canvas and some things just kept in my head. As with every landscape the very first decision is where to put the horizon line, and to decide that, you need to make up your mind about whether this is a painting about sky or land. Since I wanted the poppies to be the star of this painting I put the horizon line up high on the canvas creating a substantially smaller area of sky than land. Next step was to create a believable and varied topography for the land, particularly in the distant hills. Oh, btw, I'm working here with transparent red oxide, Chroma Interactive acrylics, thinned with Fast/Fixer medium, drawing with the edge of a filbert brush. Once the hills are established I tucked in a few buildings and then roughed in the shapes of the large trees, and finally placed the smaller cypress trees in the distance. The next step is to establish a value pattern, and still using the transp. red ox. and fast medium I use a large filbert brush and brush in values. There will not be as much contrast as in the final, but enough to remind me where I want darks and where the lights will be. Stepping back, especially with a large painting is essential to get a feel for how a painting "reads" at a distance and you will immediately know if you need more darks, or if areas of darks need to be linked together to make bigger dark shapes with more impact. Once that's all done I begin in a very traditional way of working, from far to near, with color. I begin with the sky and work my way forward, using the largest brush possible, laying in large, broad areas of color. Occasionally, I'll know that I want to add a modifying color or texture to an area and I may take a break from laying in large areas and go play a bit in a smaller area. Believe it or not covering a canvas this large, especially in the early stages where you're getting the first layer down can be physically exhausting. So a little break now and then to work in a smaller area is a needed relief. So where are the poppies??? They will go in closer to the finish, but all the while that I'm painting I'm thinking about what the overall pattern of poppies will be and how they will integrate into the landscape and how they will move the viewers eye through the painting. More to come!
Transparent Red Oxide