Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Painting Process - Stage Three

Original Photograph

Finished Painting

The final stage of my painting process involves challenges on composition and choice of colors.

Every painting style has it's unique challenges. For representational paintings, the challenges are:
  • to paint the subject accurately
  • compose the scene in an asthetically pleasing way
  • choose colors that will appeal to the viewer

After all, my paintings must do more than what a simple photograph can accomplish. So, I allow each painting to start with reality, and make the leap into the imaginary.

I would love to hear your comments.

- Michelle LaRae

Friday, April 20, 2007

Laguna Lifeguard Tower

"Laguna Lifeguard Tower"
oil on canvas

I was planning on posting the Stage Three of my painting process comparing the final painting with the original photo, but my scanner broke. So, in the meantime, I thought I'd introduce you to the final painting in the Laguna Beach Series.

I took this photo when I walking in Laguna Beach with a friend. This lifeguard tower is a local landmark that has been painted by many artists.

The painting portrays a young girl walking along the boardwalk. I wonder what she is thinking? Her face doesn't seem to match the bright, beautiful day.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Painting Process - Stage Two

The next stage in my painting process is applying the colors!

I generally work from back to front, so that I don't accidently paint over the details in the foreground object. Even though I can remove paint when it's still wet, I prefer to avoid this. I also try to work from left to right. This is simply to avoid putting my hand in wet paint since I'm right-handed. Enough of the boring stuff... Now on to the colors!

As I am painting a certain area, I start off with the darkest color that is suitable for the effect I'm creating. For example, in the sky where the sun is setting, I used thioindigo violet for the outer edge of the glowing part of the sky. Then, as I work closer to the sun, I first lay down cad red mixed with thioindigo violet. Next, it's cad red mixed with cad orange. Then, straight cad orange. Then, closest to the sun is cad yellow medium. Each section is blended to give the sky a smooth look.
Notice the dark red and orange areas of the sky. They are simply constructed by painting the cad orange in the lighter places, and letting the cad red and violet show through in the darker places. But in this case, I didn't have the cad red and violet so close to the sun. Instead, I added it later to make the sky more dramatic.
Of course, the painting doesn't always work out this perfectly. Sometimes, I spend a lot of time re-working the composition and the colors to achieve the effect I'm looking for. In fact, I spent at least 4 hours on the sky alone.
Finally, I use cad yellow light mixed with white to paint the sun. Also, I use cad yellow light (maybe adding a timy bit of white) to add the highlights in the sky which create a hint of clouds.
The general rule in applying colors using the Old Master's Technique is work from dark to light. If you try to do it the other way, the colors will look flat and chalky. The other trick is to apply each layer when the previous layer is still wet. This takes some time to get used to, but it will allow you to layer the colors in a way that they blend a little.