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):
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Flowers are drawn from life in my studio directly onto canvas
Final drawing in willow charcoal before 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
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