The Process of a Painting

I want to share with you some of the things that happen in the creation of new artwork. 

Stage 1

Firstly, I have to decide what exactly I am going to commit to paper or canvas. And that is not as easy as it sounds. I take huge numbers of photographs, and so the first thing I do is skim out the ones which I think will work as paintings. This is where I face the first hurdle. You see, most photographs which I take aren’t ready to be painted. I’m not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination, and so pictures that I think are going to work beautifully when I first view them through the lens suddenly reveal themselves to be less than exciting. Maybe the composition is off. Maybe the colours are not as bright as they appeared at first. So on to the second stage.

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The original photo

Stage 2 and 3

I fiddle with the photos. I change dynamic settings, maybe to bring out the vibrancy, or deepen the shadow. I crop them to make a better composition (that means I cut bits off the edge). I may enhance some detail.

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Zoomed in

When I’m happier, I then lay a grid over the photo on my PC. I print out the resultant image. I then use this to map out the image large scale on the canvas. I find this helps even if it’s a landscape, and it’s vital if it’s a portrait – in which the exact placement of the features is so important. That’s stage 3.

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Overlaying the grid

Stage 4 is the scary bit. Although actually, the scariest bit comes before. The scariest bit is looking at a completely blank canvas, and wondering what on earth I am going to paint on it. But the second scariest bit is laying the first layer of paint down because it looks completely rubbish. It’s the “The Dog’s been sick” stage. Because that, truly, is how the canvas looks.

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The Dog’s been sick

As it progresses, it moves towards this:

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Laying in the base colours

You can see here the layers of different colours beginning to be laid down. This includes whiting out any areas which don’t quite work. One of the reasons I love oils and acrylics is that the artist is able to lay all those colours down, and also to rectify any mistakes. In watercolour, you don’t have that option. If you make a mistake, you just have to work it in or else start again.

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In the photo above you can see how it’s all beginning to come together – the reflections appear on the water and in the puddles, the clouds are taking on more shape. Then we move onto the last couple of stages:

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