Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Harvest Moon" WIP 3

Currently the way I do the first stages of paintings has been influenced a lot by the excellent Foundation Painting DVD by Shawn Barber. Basically he describes starting with a rough pencil sketch on the canvas and thinking of painting as refining the drawing, just like one would do with pencil. I like sketching and drawing much more than painting loosely, so this approach immediately felt natural to me.

The first step was the phtalo blue underpainting, pencil sketch and some light washes of white to figure out the brighter areas. Then I started with the sky since its color and lightness are very dominating and thus it's better to have it in place before starting with the owls, which will have a lot of white and would easily come out too bright without the background as a reference. (Owls on the trees need to be less bright than the main girl, because they are further away and making them full white would distract the eye from the main girl too soon, which would make the scene look too crowded and confusing.)

With the sky in place it is safe to start with the owls. I started from shadows because in general it's easier to paint with bright colors over dark colors (it's much easier to keep the color under control and get subtle shades of gray). But this time I will really leave the lightest and darkest colors last. Having them in the painting since the beginning is very distracting - I end up with a distorted perception of the intermediate colors and I end up painting more abrupt changes of value instead of subtle variations, like it happened in the crucified owl painting...

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