An Accidental Discovery Leads to Painting

In my previous post I spoke of finding my adventure to Mare Island and the realistic abstract images I discovered and how they served as training the eye in composition and as inspiration toward another form of medium, such as painting. So four weeks ago, while attending an Open Show in San Francisco, I discovered a beautiful column full of texture and history.

Out came the iPhone and after selecting the camera application 6x6, it was down to business. At first one is overwhelmed and not knowing where to start isolating and framing a section of the huge column, I need to just take in a deep breath and visually map the column into sections and begin from there.

Untitled as of now

Since this was indoors, the lighting was horrible, but it did not deter me from capturing two to three dozen images which would serve as a study for a possible painting. While it is certainly possible to duplicate a photograph in another medium as a painting, the photograph is best served as inspiration and letting the artists emotions about the scene emerge and be part of the painting. This way the painting or drawing becomes more personal and meaningful.

During the shooting of the column, I framed each image according to the columns best feature and developing a strong composition, including going for a few detail close-ups were the information is more important then the composition.

After uploading the images to the laptop, the editing process began and the best images placed in a separate folder on the iPad to serve as a resource and inspiration.


In the end I selected a full frame image (3264x2448 pixel) that was only cropped on the top and the bottom so that it would become a square (2448x2448 pixel), considering the canvas I had prepared was 36 x 36 inches.

The general shapes were loosely painted with acrylic to cover the gesso layer and to see how these shapes balanced with each other. While this is only a general base, much is contemplated before the next layer is applied.

Painting in Progress - Stage 1

Painting in Progress - Stage 2

In stage 2, the color palette was more defined, including the different brush sizes that would be used when painting. After contemplating on the progress, I felt that another painting had started to emerge, rather than the one I had intended, that I almost considered continuing what I had done by making more distinct building shapes to reveal a cityscape. However in the end, I decided I needed to return to the original idea and be more bold and not too refined with my brush work, while retaining some of the earlier brush strokes.

Painting in Progress - Stage 3

One needs to be honest with one’s self, when it comes to judging a work of art in progress. One needs to set the painting aside, then place it in other rooms that are being frequented, before returning it to the easel for further study. It was just after such a process that I noticed the far left dark area was competing with the main dark shape on the right side of the canvas and so changes were being made to tone down the problem and make that area more homogenous with the rest of the canvas by blending the tones with each other.

Painting in Progress - Stage 4

Painting in Progress - Stage 4½ 

The following photograph is accurate in what it portrays but not in color. Since all images were taken outdoors with the canvas facing the North, the surrounding reflective light influenced the colors, making everything appear warmer.

By now I had taken a major step, using a stiff nylon wallpaper brush that was dipped in paint as to apply hard lines, marks of destress in the lower mid-left-center. If it did not work, I would have to react rather than move ahead with the vision to which I was locked in.

Now that there was major progress accomplished, it was time to hang the painting on a wall in the dinning room to see how it held up against the strong red wall. It also became clear that what had been done with the wallpaper brush needed to be better integrated with the surrounding. This was accomplished with a few blended brush strokes. Now I was ready to begin the next major stage of the painting by applying the horizontal brush work and adding color, including line work with non-acrylic material.

Painting in Progress - Stage 5

I had already spent about 36-40 hours or so painting from stage one through 4½ and stage 5 seemed almost ended up being another seven hours plus. Of course much of that time is also spent taking a step back to study ones progress. 

The question that remains to be answered is, is the painting finished?



After taking the above image, I realized that my brush work now appeared much larger and it gave the shapes more prominence, thereby realizing the painting is not finished and I would need to go back and add larger brush strokes so things would not be so subtle and be lost when viewing the painting from a distance.

This would mean that after doing this, I would need to go back and add a few more smaller brush strokes so that one layer does not stand out but all becomes integrated, appearing things happened over time, just as all the dents and bangs into the column took years to make.

Since I only paint one to two days a week, it will take at least another 10 days before the painting will be actually completed and signed and yes, what about a title, that still needs to be accomplished also.

All photographs taken with an iPhone 5S by
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