I began this piece with my son's love for everything vehicles as my guide. After some initial planning, I knew I wanted my composition to have a fair amount of energy so I texturized the canvas with diagonal marks. Having the majority of my painting in earth tones, I chose a cadmium red ground with a high contrasting green underpainting. I worked in glazes to add a new layer of coverage to the bright ground, careful not to let the vibrancy get too lost in the freshly lain paint. Considering how the X-wing interacts with its environment, I used the hazy clouds and beams of light to merge the subject of the foreground with the background. While working on this piece, I especially loved using the texturized canvas to highlight some notes in the paint, and look forward to using that technique again. Take a look below at some process and detail shots, and let me know what you think.
I have been experimenting with a few new techniques recently, but in this painting I decided to push them a little further. I first prepped my canvas with texture and a bright underpainting. Taking the composition, subject, and color into consideration during this stage was an important step in preparing the tone of the piece.
I began by "texture painting" and planning the major shapes and movement in the composition. Because I had already prepared the canvas, I wasn't dealing with a blank slate (so to speak), and blocking in the major highlights and shadows over the warm underpainting served a new purpose. I usually paint these in the planning phase, but here I considered how the subsequently painted layers would interact with the underpainting since the texture and glaze allow for much of the underpainting to peak through. After blocking in the highlights and shadows, I focused on the brighter colors and then eventually toned parts of those down with midtones.
Once the painting was nearly complete, I flipped the canvas to study the composition and realized the painting took on new meaning. Unable to decide which interpretation I liked the most, I decided to sign the painting a little unconventionally and left the directional decision to the viewer. The challenges this painting presented allowed for a lot of organic moments in the that I truly loved.
So, as a new mom, I've come to the conclusion that everything takes 3x as long to do when you have a little one in tow. I am so glad I was able to at least get out to the Tampa Outdoor Artists plein air meet up (albeit 20 minutes late) and get my sketching hand exercising. It was nice having the freedom sketching allows and getting together with other local artists. I honestly forgot how much I used to love carrying around my sketchbook back in the middle school days all the way through college.
Times have changed though, for better or worse. My hands and time are tied up a little more often than not these days, and as necessity is the mother of invention, or at least the catalyst in my case, I decided to bring my iPad to sketch with Photoshop on the go. Digital painting allows me the possibilities of various media without the trouble and mess using the actual material would cause. It was so much fun experimenting with Adobe's iPad apps in creating custom texture brushes that I subsequently used in my sketching in the very same session.
I first warmed up with some figurative work which allowed me time to adjust to the interface, brushes, and updates since my last sketch. The little man allowed me enough time to set up a texture brush and start a sketch of the palm tree I could see from my seat in Blick. Later luckily, the excitement of the day was enough to wipe him out at 6:00 that evening which afforded me time to go back into the piece to experiment with the color and lighting a little further.
All in all, I've learned the moral of this new experience has taught me Time Is Precious. Learning to make the most of it!