This month I thought I’d show another set of process shots that I took while working. This piece existed in sketch form for a while, I believe, before it re-emerged from the cluttered stack of ideas that I keep laying around.

As with many of my pieces, I just started playing with it and the idea goes back and forth on the board until it seems to reach a point of commitment.





I sketch on transparent Duralar matte finish for placement of a second figure. This piece was inspired by and meant to be a nod to one of my favorite Beksinski images.


After I finalize the placement and structure I usually apply a coat of gloss acrylic medium to the board. It gives me a very slick surface to push the paint around on and since I paint very thin, it doesn’t have any problems with adherence that might occur with thicker paint on a smooth surface. After it dries I lay in a textural layer of oil, with the purpose of creating lines and striations that I can build into the shapes.


A slight spattering of gamsol creates some textural noise that aids in its overall effect.


I begin to dig into the shapes, defining some areas and losing others while continuously picking out the texture as well. The oil dries and then I use a kneaded and an abrasive eraser to model the forms a bit. When the paint is this thin a stick eraser does a good job in a subtractive drawing method.


I go back and forth quite a bit pulling shapes out. At a different time they may be pushed back again. This sorta feels like juggling and I may adjust something to a higher value, that as the piece progresses, needs to be pushed back down a bit. It gets more dramatic when I sometimes discover that the parts  I like in a piece are actually getting in the way of making the right decisions to get to the final result. That’s when you have to bite the bullet and (sometimes) obliterate a successful passage to get to a more successful piece.










At this point some of the higher values are starting to become more solid and opaque. I don’t intend to paint the piece opaquely overall, its just another element of contrast to play with and differentiate the figures.




I started painting black into the background but decided midway that I didn’t want to loose the movement of all that brush work and its texture so I ended up wiping it off in the end.

This process is one of my favorite ways to work. It isn’t suitable for every piece that I do but it is great fun and is always relatively exciting…I mean, as exciting as it can be watching someone tickle a board with a small paintbrush for hours on end. 🙂


Allen Williams Final of Embrace