Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wallaby Cave - Day 5

Measuring 40" x 20", this is the largest painting I've attempted to date. Interestingly, I'm finding that working with a larger format encourages a looser approach, something my teachers from bygone years tried to coax me into - with little success! Of course, a contributing factor could simply be my impatience to cover this large canvas. It still seems a slow process, but I'm finding it much easier to improvise within each section, relying less on my photographic references than I have in the past. This will all change when the wallabies make an appearance!

With traditional oil painting, the process usually begins with a monochromatic turps wash to establish tonal values, or a blocking in with approximate colours, again with emphasis on tonal value. I use acrylic paint and rarely use white, relying instead on a series of transparent glazes to gradually establish my final values and colours. Working light to dark and allowing the white canvas to shine through the layers of paint, I guess my technique has more in common with watercolours than with oils. The downside with this strategy is that it's not possible to block in as a first step; I find that tonal values are therefore more difficult to judge in the presence of so much white ground. I generally bring each area within the painting to something approaching a completed state before moving on to the next section, being careful to leave room for final adjustment in selected areas once the entire surface is covered.

Apart from the wallabies, what attracted me to this scene is the dramatic lighting. Despite what the work in progress might suggest at this stage, the foreground is in shadow while the rock and the wallabies at the cave entrance and everything above them is bathed in the gold of glorious late afternoon sunlight. The success or failure of this painting will hinge on my ability to fine-tune colours and tonal values in the final stages to convey this mood.

Best wishes


Colette Theriault said...

Gosh, Peter, that looks awesome already. Feel like walking right in the cave!
One of the last portraits I did was 40x23 and done in colored pencil. It took me virtually forever!

Peter Brown said...

Colette, just as a large painting demands the use of larger brushes, might I suggest you seek out some larger colored pencils!

Grahame Butler said...

Great work on the rocks if you know what I mean Peter? watching this with interest, I would guess you just have to go for at this size, mind you what would I know most of my drawings are around 6x4 inches max! looking forward to seeing this progress.

Dean Richards said...

Keep runninn' with it Pete... work with the feeling as much as the specifics. Moving toward looseness is a progression, be sure to treat your efforts with patience and understanding. Be at one with the process, enjoy it and you'll be happy you did.

Judy said...

That is a big painting. I have a board sitting here that is 24 x 36 and if and when I use it, that will be my biggest ever too. Your cave is looking good and I bet the rocks are fun. I love rocks, wood and rusty metal to use in pantings. Good luck and can't wait to see the wallabies.