Step by Step
Last Friday, October 5, 2017 was First Friday Art Walk at RS Hanna Gallery in Fredericksburg, Texas.
RS Hanna Gallery located at 208 South Llano Street is hosting the NOAPS Fall Showcasing. The Fall is a great time to visit Fredericksburg and to stop at the RS Hanna Gallery. You can see six of my paintings there.
I actually was at RS Hanna for the First Friday Art Walk doing a painting demonstration but it was so much fun and so many people stopped and asked about my painting process that I did not have the chance to finish the landscape in the two hours before I had to return back to Houston.
In addition, my painting process is a layering process that requires patience and drying in between the layers; therefore, I decided to share with you the step by step process I am taking to complete the artwork started last Friday at RS Hanna.
The landscape is from a park in Houston where I frequently take my bicycle and enjoy the views of a very small lake. Quite often, I stop and enjoy the reflections of the exuberant vegetation on the surface of the water. In certain areas one can see the stones and rocks at the bottom. Since I am always looking at details beyond the general glance, I aim to capture everything that my eyes are recording as to transmit the totality of my experience into the canvas not just the “fleeting moment” but the wholesome expression of the beauty of each individual creation.
I will add to this article as I complete this painting. My goal is to attend the next First Friday Art Walk at RS Hanna Gallery on November 3 and hopefully show an almost complete work.
Here we go:
The first step in my paintings is the drawing. In the case of a landscape, more than a drawing, it is “the blocking” of the different areas with a monochrome color. I accomplish this step with a very thin layer of paint mixed with turpentine. This step is merely defining the areas. You can see a rough definition of the sky and the illuminated area of the water using mainly white. The trees and the shaded part of the water was defined with a diluted transparent Green Earth color. There will be a ripple effect in the water so I am already kind of defining that with a few lines.
The skies are usually the easiest part to paint and there is not that much drawing to do. I usually complete it pretty fast using Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine Blue, white and in this case a tiny amount of Quinacridone Red to bring some purples. Once the first coat of sky was complete , I proceeded to the vegetation. I basically looked for darks and lights to build the vegetation. It is a lot of observation but again I am not looking for the exact detail in each section. The details will come in successive layers. At this stage I just roughly form the vegetation through darks and lights and magically the trees and bushes come alive. Again, I am working with very thin paints as to not totally commit to anything.
I am still working with very thin paints at this stage because I want to be able to change any errors that I might have had in the original design (step 1). There is, as a matter of fact, an error in the design. The tree line goes down from right to left and it creates an instability in the composition. I want this painting to transmit a peaceful feeling which is the feeling I felt looking at the landscape. Harmony and stability is created with the use of horizontal and vertical lines. A slight diagonal line such as the tree line in this horizon throws the viewer a little off from that sense of peacefulness. I will need to correct it!
Today, I worked with the reflections of the vegetation on the water incorporating some of the stones and small rocks at the bottom of the lake. These stones are not finished! This is sort of a painted sketch of forms, a first attempt to the changes in value which will be further defined in future layers. I am still using mainly Green Earth and Burnt Umber which are both transparent pigments, a little Yellow Ochre and very little white which will opaque pigments if used in big quantities. The use of the transparent pigments is done on purpose since I am dealing with water. The goal is for the light to be able to go through the layers of paints and come back to the viewer to gives us the experience of looking through water to the bottom of the lake.
OK, I have finished with the preliminary steps and I have corrected the tree line. It might need further correction. I also see that I will need a smooth transition with the rocks specially in the right side but overall I am happy with how it is developing. The stones and rocks were a challenge but what is painting without a challenge!
Now I will let it dry for a few days while I work on a different painting. Once it is totally dried to the touch, I will come back for what would be the third layer.
I had to take a week break from painting to attend the Best of America Exhibit 2017 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It is a great exhibition at Castle Gallery Fine Art that will last until November 11, 2017. There are 124 beautiful paintings in this exhibit and I am honor to say that my painting “Orchids Tray” received the Best Still Life Award. Thank you goes to the Awards Judge, Jason Sacran, to the gallery staff members and the organizers.
Upon returning to my studio, it was catch up time and finally today I had the chance to give a third coat to most of the landscape in progress.
It was good that during my absent the paint has dried. Today I was able to go over the sky, the vegetation in the horizon, the reflections and part of the water. The only part that I left untouched were the stones and rocks. One thing that is different about this painting is that I chose a hard panel as the surface. I usually paint on linen but I tried the panel this time. While the surface of the panel is smoother than the linen, I feel I can handle the paint much better on the linen surface. I kept working with the same paint colors, just adding another coat. As one advances with the coats, it is easier and easier to visualize the different shapes and changes in values that make the details of the landscape.