Wow! This summer sure went fast. The older I get, the faster they seem to roll by. There’s always all these projects I want to do over the summer while the weather’s nice and the days are long, but work and life have a way of getting in front a lot of the time. I’m sure you can relate.
But overall, it’s been a pretty rad summer for us out here. Kept fairly busy working on some fun projects, and in between have been able to squeeze in a few paintings too. Didn’t get to the big one I want to do of my daughter…maybe that can be a winter project instead haha.
This big forest painting has proven to be quite a bear! So many different elements to tie together, and scale-wise it demands a bit more detail than I usually have to put in. It’s been a good exercise but I’ll admit sometimes it can feel like it’s going nowhere. I’ve been tryin to document my process almost more for my own wellbeing, so I can look back and see that progress is actually happening in order to not lose steam on it.
So once this big one was dry to the touch, I began glazing some local color into it. I use the same glaze mixture of 60/30/10 galkyd/terpenoid/refined linseed oil and transparent colors to get kind of a stained glass effect. Glazing with transparent paints works exactly like a multiplier layer in photoshop does. In fact, I’ll often do a quick photoshop mock-up before starting with the actual paint so I have some sort of a game plan. It’s incredibly helpful.
I use olive green alizarin crimson, Payne’s gray, Indian yellow, pthalo green, ultramarine blue and transparent red oxide lake primarily in the glazing stages. They’re all transparent and I find I can get pretty much any color using a combination of them. Sometimes I’ll sneak a pthalo turquoise or blue in, but I use these sparingly because they’re so damn strong.
Here’s a time lapse I shot of your boy laying down a glaze. I think in reality this took about 30-40 minutes. At this point I’m just aiming for local color and trying not to get too in the weeds with it (get it? Dad jokes!) For now. Tree trunks are brown, foliage is green, and while I might vary it some I’m trying to keep things simplified for now.
After that first pass dried, I came in with another round of glazing to push the depth on some of the shadows and generally just bring things down a bit lower in value. I’m careful not to use too much paint in my glazes. I’d rather apply 3 thin glazes as opposed to one heavy dark one, as it gives you more control and it just looks better. Heavy glazes can muddy your values and oversaturate things. Less is more.
Once I have my glazes in, I start picking out details and actually form painting some areas. I came in and keyed in the central tree trunk first, establishing the darkest darks and brightest highlights. Since its sort of the central element I wanted to make sure I had that working as early as possible. It will definitely be refined more, but getting it laid in early serves to dictate all value decisions for the rest of the piece.
From there it’s a lot of pushing and pulling, delineating things by painting around and behind them as much as on them. I try to keep the brushwork lively, and paint indirectly as much as possible. For this type of nature stuff I find mark making is really important. For stuff like leaves, I feel like I can get better results with a few well placed marks as opposed to careful form painting. At this stage, I’m not trying to get it all in once sitting. It’s all about getting things as far as possible but leaving things open to be taken further in another sitting. I work slowly and deliberately, observing and planning sometimes more than I’m physically painting.
I took a pass on the top half first, I won’t lie it was just easier and I figured I wanted a win early on so I’d be invested enough to tackle all those plants on the bottom half. And that’s where I’m at right now, picking out more refined shadow shapes, fleshing out a first pass on the leaves, and holding off on a lot of the twigs and vines for now. here are a few detail shots of areas i think are beginning to work:
Here’s a time-lapse of how I’m approaching the bottom half.
Once this stage is completed, I’ll come back in with some glazes before doing a final refinement pass. Thinking I’ve got another month on this. Then I get to figure out where the hell I’m gonna put it! here’s a shot of where its at as of this afternoon:
Here’s the almost final dandelion I posted last month. I varnished it the other night, and then ended up wiping it off a few minutes later because there were a few things I still want to take a little further. Hate it when that happens.
OH and if you’re in the Seattle area we’re throwing a workshop over at Digipen on the 14th! This will be our first in almost 5 years! Excited to get back out there and share some of the experiences that have happened over that time. Also really excited to see my family! Here’s a link with the deets if you’re interested, its gonna be a good one! : https://massiveblackworkshop.com/