Painting the Background
Yesterday was a great day:
Aside from the quick one-hour Alla Prima studies I do somewhat regularly, I haven’t done any real painting for nearly 2 months. Since then I’ve been preparing for a show and then doing a complete overhaul of my website.
Worthy and necessary pursuits, but painting is more fun… and yesterday I finally got back to it with the commission project I’ve been working on; having finished crafting the panels and sketching in the composition, it’s time to paint.
The first step was to lay in the sky background which provides support and depth for the foreground marbles. After seeing the initial sketches I sent, the collectors asked for a richer blue for the background. We had a few jokes about IBM blue, but that’s about where it ended up.
As in this piece above, I’ve painting a lot of cumulus clouds into my backgrounds – the type that basically look like fluffy cottonballs. But, for this project I wanted something more restrained, so I settled on some thin light cirrus clouds.
These reinforce the depth of the sky without overpowering anything, and they will also provide a subtle way of leading the eye around the composition – a big challenge in such a long and narrow format.
Here is the central panel with the clouds painted in. As you can see, the treatment is minimal, but still enough to leave no doubt about what the viewer is looking at, and also to interact with the forms of the marbles in subtle ways – see how the shapes of the clouds flow outwards from the large central marble?
The Paint Itself
The handling of the paint for the clouds is actually pretty loose. Since my work is usually exacting and controlled, it’s a WHOLE lot of fun to get out a big brush and start swinging, though I ended up spending a lot of time with a blender smoothing things out.
I’ll let these dry for a few days before resuming, and I can’t wait to show you more!