PROCESS

Each part of the process of making a painting is important to me. Even though the earlier stages are covered by the final layer of thick oil paint. I have a lot of resource material and references at the ready to help me decide what to paint next. Which brings me to the initial question, what am I going to paint? More recently I have been painting in series of works. This is one of the most satisfying approaches I have taken to date. Focussing in on a theme, using the same vase with multiple bouquets, or referencing the floristry of an Australian florist. Mostly though, I paint my own sculptural floral creations.

WHAT SHALL I PAINT? 

The first step in my process is deciding what to paint.  I will collect some native flowers or some roses, and then present them in the way I may wish to paint them, for example, in a vase.  I photograph a subject loads of times, in varying locations. This helps me to decide on a composition.  As I have quite a few finalised images to choose from, there are often several choices. I enjoy working this way, as I have multiple options to consider.

A good example of flowers photographed for composition purposes

DRAWING ONTO CANVAS 

A good example of a charcoal drawing on canvas.

Once I have decided on my composition, the first step towards producing a painting is to draw.  A lot of drawing and shaping of  lines is done with the gum eraser for charcoal.  I draw directly onto the canvas or linen.  I do this via 3 approaches, (or a combination of these):

  1. Drawing with paint. I enjoy painting directly from life. Painting directly in oil “at first attempt’, is called Alla Prima. Wet paint is applied into wet.
  2. Other times I will draw the flowers as they appear in front of me, from life, directly onto the canvas.  I will have the flowers set up in a vase in my studio. 
  3. For much of my practice I make a drawing by enlarging a photograph.  I make a photograph of what my mind’s eye wants to paint. This is part of the seeing the way an artist sees. A grid is placed over the photograph and a larger grid is placed on the canvas. The ratios of image and canvas must be the same.
A good example of ‘drawing with paint’, an alla Prima painting: Bookleaf Mallee, Outback Blooms”, 46 x 61cm, oil on linen.

Flowers are drawn from life in my studio directly onto canvas

Final drawing in willow charcoal before underpainting

UNDERPAINTING 

If I have drawn in charcoal, the next step in my process is to to an under-painting. I use watery acrylic to paint the shapes, including the background, in the colours I intend to use for the final painting. This is a fairly relaxed stage.  It is however, the stage where a lot of decisions are made.  I consider this my map to paint in oil. 

Underpainting in washy acrylic onto the canvas

OIL PAINTING  

This is the fun bit. Once I have my map, I paint in oil. I am an impasto oil painter, and I paint with a brush, and sometimes a painting knife. I thicken my paint with impasto medium, which also causes the oil paint to dry more quickly, once it’s on the canvas. I generally do one layer in oil. I apply the paint thickly and deliberately. This is where the right brain kicks in, as I do not  “think” with my left brain a lot during this stage. There is a saying “don’t think, just paint”, which rings true. I love this stage. It is very life giving. It gives me joy.

Final work, “The Blue Jug” oil on canvas, 60 x 60 cm

PROGRESSION OF A WORK

An example of where a grid is drawn to enlarge an image.

Charcoal drawing of Lillypilly Dance showing grid

Underpainting of Lillypilly Dance

Lillypilly Dance, oil on canvas, 100 x 100cm