I’ve been doing chunks of buildings for a few years now, and felt a strong push to do this one from a photograph I took last autumn. It’s part of a house in Cassopolis, Michigan–a tiny town (even though “Cass” is the county seat) not far from my home. When I returned to painting seriously over 20 years ago, these little monochrome studies were always a preliminary to beginning the larger work. I had somehow gotten lazy recently and neglected to do them, and I think it showed in my work. There are actually two preliminary steps that help set the balance of light/dark and color values. The first one is this black and white version in oil on paper. It’s really quick–painted over a printout of my original drawing. But it sets the darks and lights in a fairly dramatic way. I’m really jazzed about the movement created in this small sketch. The next step will be to do at least one (but actually as many as it takes) small versions in full color, exploring different color palettes until I find colors that work well together and preserve the same “pop” in color that’s seen in the black and white version. Because I spend the time on all these preliminaries, when I set out to do the real painting most of the time it will almost just “paint itself”. There’s an immense amount of knowledge of the subject acquired in the act of painting the same drawing various ways. This experience has made me a firm believer in what I was told a long time ago as an art student–you can’t paint what you don’t know. Can’t imagine why I got lazy about it!
Charm, showing off the only braids that will stay in her endless mane.
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