Creating a quality painting is much like writing a great novel, or composing a moving piece of music, each begins with an idea. The idea may be fully formed, but just as often may begin with nothing more than a kernel of an idea, which when developed, can become something significant.

Usually, when beginning a new work, my idea/concept is not fully formed, but in fact evolves throughout the painting process. When painting on location my main objective is to faithfully represent the scene, however, in the studio the mindset is quite different. It’s there that I have time to contemplate the subject, (referring to plein air studies and/or photographs), decide what’s important to me, add some imagination, and take the painting in that direction. For most of us when we paint en plein air, or when we stop to take a photograph, we have already declared the subject to be worthy of our time and consideration. The next step is to figure out ‘why’.

I went through every one of these steps during the creation of At the Edge of Town. The following photos reveal the process, while the videos answer the ‘why’, and provide much more detail concerning motivation, drawing, technique, and framing.

The idea began with this photograph.

The idea began with this photograph.

Monochromatic study - 4.5" x 5.68" - Oil on paper. Composition, drawing, and values were determined in this raw umber (no white) study.

Monochromatic study – 4.5″ x 5.68″ – Oil on paper. Composition, drawing, and values were determined in this raw umber (no white) study.

Cobalt Blue, Light Red, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Light, Raw Umber, Titanium White

Cobalt Blue, Light Red, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Light, Raw Umber, Titanium White

Using the palette of color shown above, color was mixed and applied to monochromatic study.

Using the palette of color shown above, color was mixed and applied to monochromatic study.

Satisfied with the study, a 24" x 30" canvas was selected. It was toned with a very light wash of Ivory Black; when dry, a grid was applied to both study and canvas, and drawing was done with raw umber pastel powder, applied with palette knife with wedge shape sponge attached. I learned this technique from the Cesar Santos video, "Portrait Painting with Cesar Santos"

Satisfied with the study, a 24″ x 30″ canvas was selected. It was toned with a very light wash of Ivory Black; when dry, a grid was applied to both study and canvas, and drawing was done with raw umber pastel powder, applied using a palette knife with a wedge shape sponge attached. I learned this technique from the Cesar Santos video, “Portrait Painting with Cesar Santos”. Drawing is easily corrected using this technique.

First stages of raw umber block-in.

First stages of raw umber block-in.

Monochromatic block-in completed.

Monochromatic block-in completed.

Application of color begins.

Application of color begins.

Wanting to include an old car in order to clarify the narrative, I searched through my "car" file until I found the appropriate car from the correct angle and eye level. That find was an important element contributing to the 'idea'.

Wanting to include an old car in order to clarify the narrative, I searched through my “car” file until I found the appropriate car from the correct angle and eye level. That find was an important element contributing to the ‘idea’.

I think the painting was at this point when the first video was shot.

I think the painting was at this point when the first video was shot.

 

"At the Edge of Town" - 24" x 30" - Oil  (You can see the value of having your work professionally photographed).

“At the Edge of Town” – 24″ x 30″ – Oil   (You can see the value of having your work professionally photographed).

 

Here’s the final video that sums it all up. I talk about changes made, the reasons behind them, how the idea evolved and what was done to clarify it, and finally I discuss the importance of framing.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following the creation of this painting. Thanks for your interest.

John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master

To view his art and bio, please click HERE.