I took some step-by-step photos of a new oil painting and thought you might like to follow the painting process. Click images to enlarge.
Here's the photo reference--a one-room schoolhouse I came upon about 20 miles from my home. I loved that brilliant, late-afternoon sky with the building in contrast against it. I chose a long narrow format for the design, to emphasize a panoramic feel.
I'm working on a 1/4" Masonite hardboard panel primed with three coats of acrylic gesso, applied with a foam roller and then sanded to a fairly smooth but still somewhat toothy surface. I've loosely scrubbed on a thinned acrylic undertone with raw sienna. When it is thoroughly dry I begin laying in the lines with a #2 pencil, trying to be pretty accurate with proportions on the building.
Here I begin blocking in the basic building, using an Isabey #5 natural bristle flat. The white wall will be in shadow against the sky. I'm taking a stab at getting in the ballpark for both color and value, with mixtures of white, ultramarine, raw sienna and burnt umber. I rarely pre-mix piles of color, preferring to mix brushloads at a time. Color is mixed intuitively rather than by theory...a bit of this...a dash of that. A little Liquin medium is used in the mixtures.
Laying in the sky with the same brush, working as quickly and directly as possible. I follow the cloud patterns in the photo fairly closely, since that is what drew me to the subject in the first place. However, I make some fairly subtle changes to their shapes, orchestrating the design to "fit" the painting better and create a sense of expansiveness within the long format. I want to maintain vitality in the brushwork, so I try not to fuss around the edges of the building too much. I will come back later and sharpen where needed.
I believe that the years of doing daily paintings, as well as my background in mural work, have given me greater confidence to work directly and with a certain pace.
Beginning the middle and foreground areas, using mixtures of white, cadmium yellow light, raw sienna and burnt sienna.
Once the environment around the building is roughed in, it becomes clear that the school is a little too dark in value. I scumble over it with lighter, Liquin-heavy mixtures of the same colors used initially. I'm not trying to refine it to a perfectly even tone, I want some of the undercolor to modulate through.
Here's the surface after value correction. I'll post the completion of the painting in the next post.