The birth of a painting

Sketch with charcoal

Sketch with charcoal

I thought it would be fun to show the progression of a painting.  Normally this would be hard for me to pull off since most of my work evolves as I paint it. But this was part of a larger commission  so I was working from an approved color sketch.

This painting was an acrylic and charcoal landscape on a 24″ x 36″ gallery wrap canvas.¬† I started by sketching in the major shapes including shadows. My minimal palette of just three colors plus white is softened by the use of charcoal.

Blocked in the darks and then mid-tone

Blocked in the darks and then mid-tone

Here I blocked in my darks first and then proceeded to add the sky and other mid-tones. Since charcoal dissolves into the paint, I need to work carefully in those areas with line work. Sometimes I go back over details with more charcoal. Spray varnish is necessary to fix the final version…but that comes later.

Adding mid-tone color

Adding mid-tone color

As I add in more midtone color, I make sure to repeatedly stand back from my easel to see if all the colors and values are working together. People ask how I get a soft, pastel look to my work. I tend to scrub my paints into the canvas to blend them…this works well to simulate the patchy values and color seen in fields and pastures (for me anyway!).

Finish with highlights and detail

Finish with highlights and detail

I think I fiddled a little more with this afterward, but this is generally what the final piece looks like…The client wanted me to capture the calm, serene feel of our local landscapes…grassy, soft rolling hills of western sonoma county. We were both happy with the result.

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