Go big or go home! This is the story about a painting I did that was 60″x40″, which translates to 5 feet long by 3.3 feet tall. So large, I never got proper photos of it before it was sold.
But the process was so different from my usual 20″x16″ canvases that it’s worth looking at in detail. The canvas was the largest I could fit inside my van, which made it an adventure to drive home. And it was nearly too big for my easel.
I have a small, but excellent, corner of a workshop to paint in. My own space with a drafting table, easel, counter and storage. I was able to balance the canvas on the easel while leaning it on the drafting table in the upright position. The canvas itself was amazingly light so all I had to be careful of was the pressure of my brush and knife strokes.
I knew what I was going to paint before I ever bought the canvas. I saw a photo before season 8 of Doctor Who aired. Day of the Moon. The episode was eh, okay not great, but the scenery was awesome. The TARDIS in sand. I decided to jump from that reference and go from there.
Typically a painting can take me anywhere from minutes (not kidding, my smallest paintings average 7 minutes) to about 6 hours. I paint fast and completely in the zone. A large canvas like this one, the very largest I’ve ever worked on, has to be marked in hours and even days. The act of trying to cover the whole thing with paint, in and of itself, takes time.
Starting with palette knives, I worked from top to middle, right to left. As with every landscape, working from back to foreground is important or you can end up with odd, unintended outlines. Typically, I prefer knife work because the paint moves fast, spreads like butter and has incredible texture. It was very obvious from the sky, that this technique wasn’t working for the painting.
Broken colour over a large space just fractures. Like a puzzle that hasn’t been quite attached together. No harmony present. In any painting, unity and harmony are important concepts and without them, the painting suffers from discord. Ever see a painting that didn’t feel complete? Or the items/elements in the painting felt like they didn’t belong? Discord.
I create unity through colour and brush strokes. Harmony follows hand in hand as elements start working together. If we take a look at the painting in the middle stages, you can see that the broken colours in the sand and sky simply didn’t work. I liked the painting well enough, but well enough isn’t a good place to stop.
So this is the point where I called it a day. Somewhere around the 4 hour mark. I was tired and knew that the painting wasn’t done by any means. It hadn’t turned out like the vision in my head. This is the point where every artist struggles. We all have visions of what we want to paint and so often, especially in the beginning years, the end result does not match the inner result. It’s disheartening. But the trick is to get beyond that and keep going.
I’ve always said you have to murder many paintings before you can create anything good. And it’s true for everyone.
Just as important as painting, the pause between painting sessions matters. Fresh eyes. Rest. Letting thoughts percolate through the back of one’s head. I painted this back in March or so, so I don’t recall how long of a break I took but it was a few days at least. I spent the time looking at other artists’ work. Looking at paintings that moved me. Not thinking about the painting. And, oh yes, watching Doctor Who!
When I went back, I switched from knife to brushes. I used different reference materials and started a new layer on top of the old. It came together fast and I pulled the colour palette together, taking photos as I worked. I didn’t have the space to back up and take in the whole canvas so the shots are angled and/or cropped to show the piece.
I’m incredibly happy with this painting. Even more so because it sold while I was painting it! Clearly that second layer was a good one to add.
Want a painting of your own? Hop on over to my store and put an order in. Or send me a message. Custom work requires some talking to make sure we are a good fit and we can go from there. Prefer prints? I’ve got those too. Head on over to my store for more info.
And coming in September 2015: 30 paintings in 30 days! I’ve joined a challenge and am getting ready to live, breathe and eat paintings for a month. Are you ready for more Star Wars, Doctor Who, Supernatural, Harry Potter, Vikings and more? Because my theme includes all my fandoms! Details coming soon.