Sunday, December 21, 2014
The title for this post should be "knowing when to put away the photograph", but given the subject matter and the time of year Season's Greetings seemed more appropriate.
The painting pictured here, titled"It's Snowing Again!" is based on a photo taken in my brother-in-law Steve's front yard. I had just returned from a walk along Nantasket Beach (lots of good photos there!) and was struck by how pretty the holly looked as it climbed upward against the lattice. The sun was shining on the plants but a few chunks of snow still lingered in and around the branches. I was intrigued by the green holly, red berries and the lattice in the background. The lattice made a nice grid pattern which appealed to me. I had used grids as a design element in other paintings and decided that I would do the same in this one.
My first step was to lightly sketch a few of the leaves, berries and part of the grid pattern. I was selective in what I chose to put in the painting because I was trying to capture a mood, not to make a copy of a photo. I had planned to start with a wet-on-wet wash of greens and blues to establish some of the base color and to set a mood. I covered the berries with masking fluid to keep them free of green and blue paint. I let my blues and greens flow freely and used a paper towel to mop up some excess color in a few places where I wanted the lattice to be closer to white than blue/green. After the wash dried I painted a few holly leaves and then started playing with the background. I deepened the colors behind the lattice and started painting shapes of leaves (no details) in the background. As I was doing this other shapes emerged from the negative space, so I tried to make them as "leaf-like" as possible.
So…if you are wondering "where is the part where I put the photo away???" It was shortly after I had painted the leaves. The background in the photo had a lot more information than I needed for a painting. So once I had painted the leaves, I had taken what I needed from the photo. The background and lattice were made by painting negative shapes, or to put it in simpler terms, by painting around shapes, rather than painting the shapes. And by leaving much up to the imagination of the viewer. My in progress photo (yeah..I know...it's crooked) will give you an idea of how the image emerged.
Once I had gotten the leaves and background painted I painted the red berries using three shades of reds. I added the snow by basically painting around the shape and then creating a light violet shadow on the bottom with a dry brush. The lattice was left as a white-ish grid which served to unify the composition. Before the painting was finished I added a layer of yellow to a few of the holly leaves to warm up the painting. The last detail was the tiny snowflakes made with opaque white paint. just beginning to fall.