Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Evolution of a big, big painting

Farmer's Field, L. Daniel, 36" x 60"

Above, close up shots for detail of brushwork and color. 

A couple of weeks ago, I told you I was working on a larger version of one of my plein air pieces from the Adirondacks (click here to see small piece). Well, I finally finished! This is the largest fine art painting I have ever done (prior to this, 30" x 40" was my largest.) The canvas has been in my studio for years but I could never work my way up to it. Why now?? I did it for my biggest fan, my husband, who has a giant wall in his new office space. He has been asking me for his own, NEW painting for quite some time (he always gets the leftovers, sadly), so this one's for him!!! :)  

The following process shots are for all you painter types out there who might find it interesting to see how the painting came together. I had to change my approach a bit since there was so much area to cover. Click images to enlarge.

1 - I began by lightly sketching of my composition onto the canvas with a blue pastel pencil;
followed by Line and Mass Block-in using French Ultramarine & Burnt Sienna.

2 - Focusing on the center section first, I worked outward adding color.
I prefer working with paint while wet (alla prima), so it helped to 
work one area at a time... kind of like the fresco painters of old.

3 - Since the darks dry fastest, I painted into all the dark edges while they were still wet.
This was a good stopping point after a day of painting. 

4 - Next, I added the sky and ground plane.  
This was another stopping point (I actually thought I was finished here, 
but, the ground seemed too orange and the sky needed more action, so...)

5 - Back at the easel, I muted the ground plane and began to add more clouds (in process here)... 

6 - FINAL PAINTING - I finished the clouds (softened) and 
further broke up the tree masses (still fairly subtle but more obvious in real life).

Once I get the painting up in my husband's office, I will try to get a good picture of it. It's always fun to see a painting "in situ". Now, did I mention I have two more huge canvases in my studio just waiting?? :)


silentwitness said...

Beautiful painting Laurel! What a great lesson on "process." Thank you! HUGE and so well done--your husband is very lucky!

Susan Roux said...

Spectacular! Love the grandeur of this. The size, the big sky... Wonderful work. Your husband is very lucky to inherit this baby for his office.

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

Your husband is one lucky guy! I wonder - did you find it difficult using large brushes? And your whole arm to make brush strokes? Gorgeous!

Claudia Hammer a Painting a day said...

I get your work in my email every day and it is such a treat! This large work is absolutely wonderful! I also really appreciate the fact that you showed the process. Thank you so much for sharing! I could go on all day about all my favorite parts but this is supposed to be short. You are amazing!

Kathy Cousart said...

I just love this one and what a lucky gift for such a nice husband! I am amazed and enjoyed seeing your process. Loved learning how you worked in stages as needed. I love what you did with the sky- the movement is fabulous. Just overall gorgeous and beautifully painted.

Barbara Andolsek said...

He's really going to appreciate this painting if he is having a stressful day. He can just take a nature walk and relax... Beautiful Laurel.

Belinda Del Pesco said...

This. Is. Just. Awesome.
And it would look spectacular in my living room. Just sayin'. :) Great post.
You rock.

Amy said...

I concur with all the other posts, so will not reiterate how wonderful this painting is! One question -- did you tone the canvas? If so, with what...from the images I think you did not, but wasn't sure. Thanks!!

Ruth Andre said...

What a lovely big canvas and how terrific you took it on to make such a gorgeous painting. Living with a big painting is such a nice experience. Your husband is in for a total treat. Love the lesson steps too. Thank-you for sharing. I look forward to seeing this painting hanging in your husband's office.

Matthew said...

Very nice post. I do like that in the final shot, you added some grass on the left to define the two fields as separate. The resulting intermittent line between the fields helps to create depth and slows the viewer's eye before resting on the building. Very nicely done. I remember being taught that once you work large, the feeling is so liberating that it is difficult to work small again. I look forward to seeing the painting in the office so we can appreciate its size once there are other objects to compare it to.

ria hills said...

Beautiful painting Laurel. I keep going back to look the trees . . exceptional work.

Carol Schiff Studio said...

Thanks for the tutorial, Laurel. It's really a stunning piece of art, wish I could see it in life and be able to appreciate the size.

I hope to see more of your larger pieces!

Randy Saffle said...

At what size does it stop being called a painting and becomes a mural? lol

Love seeing the steps. Pretty painting too. I have dibs on one of the remaining large canvases! It will keep me from having to repaint the living room because it would cover the whole wall!

Barbara M. said...

Hi Laurel,

My spring visit to the MoMa taught me that big is it. I am so impressed with this, and was delighted seeing your process. So incredibly wonderful. I loved the painting at every stage too - anyone of which could have been a painting on its own.

Thanks for this. I have been itching to do a really big painting, and this is inspiring.


Don Gray said...

What a big, beautiful painting, Laurel--congratulations!! Love your Adirondack and garden series as well.

DPS Bose said...

Good work
...DPSC Bose