Oil painting IN PROGRESS – 22 x 28 inches
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I started this oil painting today from a photo I took in Puerto Vallarta a few months ago (see bottom of this post for the original photo). I thought I’d track my process and progress and post the results as I go.
(Clicking on any of the pictures below will take you to Flickr where you can click All Sizes to see larger)
Above are the thumbnail sketches (each about 2″ x 3″) that I did first, trying to work out the composition and colors. I needed to make the sketch match the dimensions of the canvas. Unlike watercolor paper that you can cut to any size, with canvas you either have to stretch it yourself (been there, done that) or use standard sizes.
Above top right: I used grey markers to work out the values but I didn’t change the composition from the photo. Above bottom left: In this grey marker sketch I moved the cowboy to the right, adding more wall between him and the door and added some white gel pen to put back light I lost. Above bottom right: I used gouache to work out the colors.
(Above left) I placed the original photo in InDesign so I could print it out in grey scale in”tiled” pieces and then I taped the printed sections together so that it would be the same size as my 22×228 canvas. Then I printed just the cowboy in color and stuck him where I wanted him on the large printout. I could have done this in Photoshop but decided it was quicker to do manually. It’s placed over the canvas in this photo.
(Above right) I toned the canvas with acrylic paint mixed to a sort of orangey-brown. I used a sponge brush and kind of messed it up, going over an area that was partially dry, which took off paint instead of putting it on. Fortunately it was in an area where there’s a textured wall so it didn’t matter. Then I put a sheet of Saral graphite “carbon paper” between my enlarged printout and the canvas and using a stylus originally designed for using on a Palm Pilot PDA, drew (invisibly) along the outline of the shapes on the enlarged photo. The Saral paper transfered those lines to the canvas. Unfortunately I didn’t notice the enlargement slipped so I had to retrace the guy again, half an inch to the left which left a lot of confusing double lines. The main reason I wanted to trace was to get the shapes on his face right and they were totally messed up. So I redrew him over the graphite lines with a fine point Sharpie instead of tracing, which worked OK.
Above: I scanned my thumbnail value sketch, enlarged it to 8×10 and printed it out and stuck it on my easel along with the reference photo and then….
Above: Using black acrylic gesso I referred to my value sketch to make a grisaille or monochrome underpainting over the orange. Now that I’m looking at this I realized I forgot to put the grey rectangle behind his head that will have the text on it and the orange is looking paler than it really was.
Above: I was having trouble with the face so I enlarged his face and printed it, then turned the canvas and the printout upside down and tried to get the shadows and value patterns right on his face.
Then I blocked in the first layer of color with oil paints over the underpainting (picture at top of post). Once it dries I’ll paint another layer. I plan to work loosely, avoiding overworking, especially the door on the left which I like just the way it is.
Below, the original photo. Isn’t he wonderfully macho?