Here are some progress shots of a painting I did last week. It's a bit on the larger side for me at 24x30". Sometimes they come together slowly and with difficulty, this one however came together painlessly and fairly quickly in just 2 days. It's from a photo I took while in Missoula in July.
After I quickly block in the drawing and shapes with a thin wash of ultramarine, I start laying in the darks, and establishing the shadow areas.
Once the shadows are in, I start blocking in some of the lighter shapes, still using very thin washes of paint. At this stage I work quickly and try to keep things loose while maintaining the sense of light established early on.
I used different blues for the sky and the sky reflected in the trailer. At this point I could see that I had made the front wheel on the bike too small, which is easily corrected when working in thin washes during the early stages. I also saw that I was going to have a problem separating the rider's head from the background. She was wearing a dark brown shirt, had dark brown hair and her head was against a dark grey window.
I was pretty happy with how things were coming along and started to be a little more careful, not wanting to mess it up. I was also trying to maintain the sense of looseness and energy in the brushwork, something that I find difficult when working larger.
I took one of my wife's hats and put it on a post in the backyard and photographed it being careful to match the light direction in the rest of the painting. The straw colored hat helped not only to separate the figure from the background, but also to add another note of color to the painting.
At this point, I started concentrating on the light, reevaluating value relationships while adding highlights and other lighting details, trying to make it feel like the intensely bright, sunny day it was.
I continued to refine some of the shapes and work on the lighting details, while also applying thicker layers of paint in the sky and pavement.
The final painting does not have quite as much color as some of my other work, but I was pleased with the sense of light. I had been eyeing this trailer for days, getting out of my car several times to take photos, but I just couldn't figure out how to make the scene work as a painting. Then on my 5th visit, while standing there with my camera, scratching my head, I saw a woman approach on a bike. I raised my camera and waited till she was directly in front of me and released the shutter. I wasn't crazy about the house in the background, but decided to leave it, and really just focus on playing up the trailer and cyclist.