Tuesday, January 12, 2010

#123...anatomy of a painting

I recently completed these 20" by 20" square paintings for my friend and client Sarah's nursery. This tricycle and wagon offer a good opportunity to break down the anatomy of a painting and show you how I go about painting something like this. The first thing I did when Sarah told me she wanted a painting of a trike and wagon was to visit google images and find paintings others had done of these subjects.

Next, I printed and cropped the inspiration images into squares and you can see them below taped to the wall next to my canvases. To transfer the composition onto the canvas I simply bisect the inspiration image into several segments making it much easier to figure out what to paint in each quadrant of the canvas (you can see the little trike printout bisected below.)
Before beginning the painting, I decided on a two-tone blue background and painted that. Then to begin painting the wagon and trike, I did an under-painting, or line drawing just to get the shape onto the canvas. You can see above that I did this with a raw umber (brown).
Next, I began filling in the large areas with colors, sort of like coloring in a paint by number.
After all of the large color areas are painted in, it is time for more detailed work including, highlighting, darkening shadows and layering. This part of the painting could be the part that requires a little bit of artistic vision; however, if you are following an inspiration piece, often the decisions concerning where to darken and lighten are already figured out for you. Painting is like anything else, you have to practice to get good, but hopefully this break down makes it a little less daunting for those of you who want to try.

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