Let’s hear it for the artist. One of the few times he actually hit his target completion date.
It took an entire final weekend to get it to a state I felt content with, six to eight hours both days in the studio. I finally made the decision to withdraw from any more fine tuning that sometimes opens up new problems rather than solving what I was trying to address in the first place. That leads to my going round and round, “just a little more detailing the bushes, and then it’s done…” “I’ll just bump up the color in this spot, and then it’s done…” “Well, now that section looks brighter than all the rest so I’ll just re-work the entire canvas one more time, and then it’s done.”
And before I realize it, I’ve been slaving for months on a painting I once loved and had high hopes for, but now resent and feel frustrated by (See “Secret Beach.” That is, if it ever reaches the light of day).
When I started this painting, I knew the biggest obstacle for me would be the iron bench. I wasn’t sure how to master the perspective and effectively represent its shape and lighting. I didn’t know what colors or brushes to use. As I started in, I still hadn’t completely made those decisions.
Every painting should have at least one element you’re not sure you are capable of conquering. For me, it was that bench. That damn bench.
If you look over the progress pictures of the painting (here, here and here), you will see I worked the bench up slowly, beginning with the pencil sketch, then broad shapes of color, then breaking it down piece by piece, and slowly working up from dark color to light, using a small round brush and a liner for finer details.
The final color is a mixture of Titanium White and Payne’s Grey with Thalo Blue. Once that dried, I added some accent color of just the Titanium White and Thalo Blue. At one stage, the bench’s darkness was blending so closely with the green of the bushes behind it that I painted the entire thing white just to make sure I didn’t lose the basic shape. I wobbled a bit here and there, but I finally got it where I wanted it – and then – AND THIS PART IS CRUCIAL – I swore off it completely. Once that was locked, the rest was just about having fun.
The dappled lighting in the trees was done with a liner brush and painting wet into wet, mixing strokes of darker and brighter colors. I nailed the color of the fence, spot on (Thalo Green shaded with a tiny drop of Thalo Blue, and then mixing Titanium White until I reached the correct saturation level).
I’m satisfied with my work, and always, I see lots of room for growth. Below you can see the original sketch I did and below that, the finished work.
Thoughts? Advice? Share your own tips? Anything you want, in the comments… then