Hello friends! I am pleased to share my latest work with you. The exploration of prairie continues. Enjoy!
A good friend asked me recently about the process used in creating my paintings – the prairie pieces in particular. I thought it was a good question. Scroll below the photos for my answer.
I start with a walk out in nature. Observing, feeling, experiencing all I see. Whatever captures my attention gets photographed. I capture not only what is in front of me, but the emotional memory as well.
Back in the studio, I choose several different photos and print them out at the highest possible quality and resolution. Laying them all in front of me on the table, I pick my favorites and begin some rough sketches, including shapes that speak to me from many different photos, to create a composition. I choose a dominant photo as my reference and build the composition around it, taking leaves from the photos.
With composition in hand, I overlay it with a grid to transfer the drawing to my panel. That’s when creative license really begins. I include or omit details on the fly, in pencil over a gessoed and raw umber stained panel. This is when he piece really starts to feel alive to me.
Next, background is brushed in rich black (burnt umber and ultramarine blue mix), leaving the dominant elements in negative shapes. Then she dries for about 24 hours.
Over the black I again take license to create a network of foliage. Rough shapes of leaves and stems are quickly sketched in oil. I use the photos a bit here to give me shapes of different kinds of leaves and stems. But it is still rather spontaneous.
The big leaves are what make the works explode. So I really use the photos when getting into them for color, shadows, decay, and all the other deliciousness that lives in them. With them I also take many liberties. But the reference keeps me on track.
At the end when I’m fatigued of working on the piece, and my soul wishes for the project to come to an an end, I go into the background again to really play with stems, leaves, and other details that just jump out of my brain spontaneously. This last step is what I really love. It might be the best part of the work for me because I can see it fully born at last. It’s an incredible feeling to watch it becoming a living piece! It’s almost like someone else is finishing it while I watch from outside.
After all that, when I think, “It’s done!” I leave my palette uncleaned so I can use the paint for a day or so. I live with the painting to see if there’s anything incomplete. Always I find some little detail that has to be touched up :)