Over the past few months, I have committed to making quite a large number of paintings. Up until this year, I was able to make at the very most about fifty paintings per year - and frankly, that was a stretch. In early July of this year I agreed to having about thirty mid size to large new paintings done by end of September (so in less that 3 months!!!), all to be featured in a solo show in the Buckland Southerst gallery in West Vancouver.
The theme was was what got me so excited that I just had to do it. The show will be titled YOHO! and it will feature paintings inspired by the Yoho National Park, including the famous Lake O'Hara.
I have visited these locations and done some sketching there, but this show will feature brand new studio works of the most inspiring scenes with amazing rock formations, pristine forests and alpine lakes, and yes, of course, the famous golden larch trees.
Right at the get go it was clear to me that I needed to set a few things straight:
- The painting process had to be improved and standardized. I had to figure out what steps to use to maximize productivity and minimize errors. That would allow me to calculate with decent accuracy how much time I will spend on a painting. This was the key for successful delivery on my commitment, but not only that. Having a reliable process is a long term value that would make me a more skillful and happier painter!
- A detailed weekly painting schedule needed to be established and followed to avoid the feeling of panic over the upcoming milestone. This wasn't such a big deal because I am used to multitasking and scheduling, just as most people who juggle several responsibilities. Nevertheless, having a tight schedule is tough and can be very tiring, especially late at night when the night-stream is starting on CBC radio II, and there is still one more layer to be finished.
- The summer fun activities with the family must not suffer! I am not sure if everyone will agree, but for me, painting is a sacred activity that has a purpose to enhance life, not to deprive it from good quality time with the loved ones.
To cut the long story short, I believe that I am (almost) on schedule! The most important piece of the puzzle was nailing down the effective painting process. Over many years I learned so many methods and techniques, and being a curious person I find it difficult to stop experimenting and trying out new things. But not this time! I defined my steps and I stuck to them, and it was worth while. So here it is - my new and improved five-step painting process!
Step 1 - Drawing of the image onto canvas, firstly with pencil and instinctively considering a dynamic symmetry in placement of objects (I have constructed dynamic rectangles so many times that their patterns are burned in my mind by now). Then strengthening the drawing and adding form with dark transparent paint.
Step 2 - Imprimatura is the easiest step - transparent burn sienna layer over the entire surface.
Step 3 - Block in. Deciding on the color scheme and using pure pigments as much as possible, with very minimal mixing - less is more if you want to avoid endless adjustments and remixing of subtle shades (not to mention fighting the darkening of the drying acrylic paint). I am adding texture with light molding paste to make sure my brushstrokes stay thick and juicy. The trade-off is that the first layer looks uneven and crude due to the nasty consistency of the paste, but that will be taken care if in the next step, after this layer is dry.
Step 4 - Form and Color. In this step, I stick to the same pigments, and still minimize mixing, but I add more values to enhance form and vibrancy of colors. Edges can be softened and cleaned up, and some minor corrections made in the composition if needed.
|Opabin Lake, Yoho, acrylic, 30x30|
Step 5 - Isn't done yet! In this step I will apply glazes to warm up or cool down colors, add scumbles to make the surface texture more interesting, and do all that fiddling that adds magic to the final piece.
Will I be able to deliver it all on time? I'll keep you posted.