This week I thought I would share a bit of my process. I follow a map. It may or may not be exact as far as location is concerned. Portraits of places is not my goal. Rather it is the ambiance of the sacred space, the soul of creation.
Beginning with a mess
I begin with a mess. From the reference photo I decide where the darks and lights go. Using a poppy red watercolour pencil, I may mark in significant points, usually any man-made structure. The rest is decided as I go along freehand.
Carefully following the drip lines and texture marks I select some shapes to represent trees. Although the driplines and the texture determine the shape of the forms I paint, I choose which ones to fill in and which ones to leave blank. I may also tweak the shape within the form so as to create more natural looking growth.
Another decision lately is to reintroduce some figures into the landscape. They are useful for directing the eye around the piece as well as creating focal points and counter focal points. The illusion of a person is all that is required so the shapes remain quite abstract. In this piece, although it is difficult to see, the legs are blue in contrast to the green in the background.
Where to go on the map?
Deciding to complete the upper part of the painting I move across the canvas adding some more man-made walls, people and the vegetation before throwing in the distant hills.
Not a portrait
Now for the waterfall. At this point I depart from the photo paying more attention to the texture and the play of paint on the surface. I find if I let go of preconceived ideas, like it has to look like Helen Hunt Falls in Colorado, I end up with a much more satisfying result. The essential is a varied line and groupings of lines. The next decision will be which colour to use for the rock formations, blue or orange.
Dealing with the foreground
Before moving further down the canvas, I look at the map and decide to develop the fence posts. These structures are in the foreground and they block the view of what lays behind. Perspective is important here although the fence is not perfectly aligned. Backing up I find the pencil lines are not quite correct. The handy water bottle and a bit of paper towel soon removes any unwanted residue as I attempt a more believable version.
Map turns corners
The map continues around the edges and I have some more decisions to make. Is this rock or vegetation? I choose vegetation although I have not determined exactly what it will look like or how far it will extend. The map is not precise. Contemplating which direction to go, where and what to develop, all keeps this artist in very happy territory. I so enjoy the random.
Do check out the VASA Winter Member Show. It runs to 2 February 2019. Enjoy your week.