Step by Step


Garibaldi, 20x24, acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


I've been playing with a new painting process, so it's time for another step by step post.  This is just one point on my journey to learn as many different ways to make a painting as I possibly can, without getting off-track with my own creative voice. In this process, step 2 is what makes it new to me.

1. Mother Color

Pick a color for the imprimatura and cover the canvas with it in a transparent layer. Visible strokes are okay. I lately use a rag to wipe off excess paint. The goal is to cover the entire canvas with a "mother" color but to still let the whiteness of the canvas shine through. This time I picked blue.

2. Flow

Block-in dark areas without acknowledging their meaning. Focus on the direction of strokes only.  How do the dark areas seem to "flow" in the scene? Move the brush or the palette knife the same way. This is a new step for me and I am having a lot of fun with it. Use at least three different colors (from dark-darks to mid-darks), to do this. The key is to ignore shapes of individual objects in the scene, but instead to move with the flow within dark areas.  With a light touch and dry brush, allow some of those flowing strokes into lighter areas as well. I used a dark purple for the first darkest dark, then a mid- value green, and a mid-value yellow.






3. Edges

Start introducing more values to define objects, considering their edges. Attend to the soft-edged areas first, by using a dry brush, blending, or whatever trick you use to preserve softness. Stop to evaluate the placement of object before diving in with hard edges. It's not fun having to go back and make too many corrections.




4. Surface

Decide which areas are best left thin, and which require thick juicy layers of paint. Typically, dark areas are left thin while the light areas receive thick delicious strokes. But, as anything else, there is opportunity for innovation. Acrylic is especially forgiving with this. I added thick lightest lights in the sunlit areas of the rocks and tree-trunks,.




5. Magic

Bring the picture to life. This is a step which is not really a step. Every painting needs something different. What does this one need? I have yet to figure that out. I may have to do steps 3 and 4 a few times going back and forth. There is a danger of ruining the painting's freshness, but I also don't want to abandon it before it receives due attention. Is it done yet? I think it's (almost) there.


Cabin Lake, Cypress, 16x20, acrylic painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki


Happy painting!

Tatjana

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