24″ x 60″ acrylic on canvas “Okanagan Birch #5”
this big painting is headed for Zurich – to my brother’s place. It is kind of a part of the Longview series – as it has that feeling of close tree detail with scraps of the far landscape peeking through. But not quite the acute 1:4 or 1:5 ratio of horizontal format. Chris needed a specific size for his new place.
I have been photographing the stages all the way through – so there will be a video of the complete painting sequence coming. It is even cool for me to see the process develop and emerge in this format.
It is interesting to me to review my process. People ask me, especially students, do I “see” the finished painting before I begin. I guess I do…but always allowing for changes and revisions as it develops. I will repaint the whole set of trees and branches to create a better contrast or subtle transition – as the background landscape takes shape. Working with the color relationships and values.
With a piece this size I have been working on compositional drafts in my sketchbook and smallers paintings for months. I have all the reference photos and pics that I need at hand. I have most of my paint basically mixed up.
I am not making a major composition decisions or changes once I begin. And as you will see in the coming video – there are layers and layers of underpainting and glazes that I plan and anticipate within my process. So sometimes it seems like the dark areas are light and light is dark – but I know from experience that it is just a technical application stage to go through. That’s where the “vision” has to stay strong.
When a student asks me – do I paint the background first or the light areas last…? I cannot answer. My process (in acrylic) has me flipping back and forth to revise and reinforce things all over.
I have to say it is nice to be back just working in the studio – where I don’t have to answer questions or explain my process to observers. My painting techniques have become somewhat intuitive and is hard to talk about or pause to consider. I guess that’s why the “sequential process” videos are even interesting to me. I work very quickly once I am in full swing – and it gives me a record of my own choices, changes and refinements along the way.
The reasons for those choices – are the benefits of practice & experience.