A behind the scenes look at a work in progress
Commission a painting today!
I had been asked to paint a honeymoon photograph of a location in Austria. I chose to work in oil paints as it’s my preferred medium, and where my expertise lies. I chose a canvas that was 12″ x 16″ (with agreement from the client) and set to work!
To start the painting, I began to map out the rough structure. I mapped out the sky and where the dominant mountains were going to be. I also started to experiment with colour; trying out various shades in order to match the colours as closely as possible to the photograph.
I then further refined the position of the mountains and added more and more layers of paint onto the canvas. I continued to experiment with the colours as I painted to make them as realistic as possible. For the mountains in the foreground, I blended French Ultramarine and Lemon Yellow. I made the mountains in the distance much cooler in colour to give a sense of depth.
I took this moment in time to check in with the client to get their thoughts about the direction of the painting. We had a bit of a chat, and she told me that she wanted the painting to be a painting of positivity for the start of her marriage. We decided that the overcast day was too negative, so I repainted the sky to be a sunnier day, using a blend of white, French Ultramarine and Phthalo Blue.
However, painting the sky blue threw up issues; the mountains in the distance on the left hand side were now too grey for the improved weather and just didn’t fit with the overall painting, so I had to make them slightly greener.
I continued and carried on building up the detail in the mountains; adding contours and increasing the contrast between light and dark in the foreground to create a sense of perspective and depth. As mountains become further away, they appear ever so slightly bluer so I had to make sure that mountains became increasingly bluer as they receded into the distance.
Additionally, I also brought out the highlights more – the sun spots – to bring the painting to life. Increased contrast between the lights and darks in the foreground again increased the sense of distance, and I really built up the texture on the leaves of the trees – if you touched it, you could feel the raised paint. I love working like this and often use a palette knife to paint in a slightly more relaxed and less restrained way.
After a few minor alterations and the addition of a couple of small buildings, the painting was now ready! I had been sending pictures of the oil painting to the client as I got to the final stages, and so I knew she was happy with how I’d painted it. I’m always very happy to change the painting so that the client is 110% happy. It gives me such pleasure to paint something special for them, so I want it to be perfect.
Oil paints take longer to dry than acrylic or watercolours, so consequently it turned out to be a good thing that the client was away over the summer – it gave me a chance to let the paint dry on the canvas. I’ll let you know how she reacts…