“Afternoon Luncheon” creative process

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Have you ever had a painting that takes forever to sell? “Afternoon Luncheon” is one of those paintings. The mind wanders…maybe it’s the economy, or income taxes coming due, or “gotta save for the kid’s college”, or the painting is too large or too small, or it doesn’t work with the sofa, or the color is wrong, or the subject, or the frame. Maybe it’s just too expensive, or, not expensive enough, or maybe I’m just not a big enough name…or, “It hasn’t sold after all this time, it must not be a very good painting.”

All these scenarios flood the mind, but as creator of the painting…”There must be something wrong with the painting” is the thought that is most haunting. Do I hear an “Amen”?

One of these days, just the right person will come along and fall in love. I continue to wait for that day.

In the meantime, I’d like to share with you the creative process behind its creation. (Click images to enlarge)

“Afternoon Luncheon” – 32″ x 46″ – Oil

“Afternoon Luncheon” was a challenge from start to finish. If you want proof that not all my paintings go smoothly, this is it.
The idea for this work really began two years before, when I did a series of small color studies as preliminaries for a possible commission. The color study shown here was selected, but it was agreed that, for the room in which it would be displayed, it would be best to invert the image.

The original color study – 4.5″ x 6.25″ – Oil

Inverted image

The studies were done using white, ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, and cadmium yellow pale. Ultimately, the client selected neither, but chose something else instead. As time passed, I preferred the design of the inverted study.
Before beginning the studio painting, I experimented with other color choices and decided to use Prussian blue and lemon yellow, rather than Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Yellow Pale. In addition, yellow ochre and cadmium yellow medium were also added to the palette. The change in blue and yellow were based on these color mixing exercises. It is here I discovered the mixtures desired could be attained.

A color wheel mixed from Prussian Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Lemon Yellow and Titanium White

Learning the variety of greens that could be achieved with the selected palette

Palette selection: Prussian Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Lemon Yellow, Titanium White

Prussian blue is a greenish blue. The thinking at the time was, it would be a more suitable color for capturing the tree covered hills descending toward Lake Como. By adding additional yellows it would also be possible to mix a greater variety of greens. I had only used Prussian blue one other time. It worked well for the color charts but, on this larger painting with so much green, it was difficult to control. If you haven’t used Prussian blue, it is similar in color and strength to phalo blue.
I regretted selecting that color by the time the block-in was completed (shown below).Not sure I will ever use this color again.

Block-in. Remnants of the original brush drawing are still seen

As the painting proceeded, it was necessary to redesign some of the architecture, as well as parts of the retaining wall. Since the original design was inverted, I felt the water needed additional consideration. With no suitable reference for what I wanted to achieve, the water was painted from imagination.

Refining, refining, refining

Nothing about this painting was easy, even the framing created a whole set of issues. Waiting weeks for the custom frame, when it arrived it was the wrong size. The response to the painting continues to be extremely positive…but who, just who is going to step forward and claim it for their own?

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I’m pleased to announce the release of my latest teaching video and book. The video and accompanying book, shown here, along with my first video, “Limited Palette Landscape”, include everything I’ve taught in my workshops. You can now take my oil painting workshop right in the comfort of your home, and for a lot less money than physically being present. (Click image to learn more)

John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Living Master. To view his art and bio, please click HERE.


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