Creating a painting is more than just putting paint on paper. Here is a recent painting “On the Tracks” that I did and some of the steps I took to get there. (Take a peek at “How I work” for my general process.)
See the starting photo of a some train cars stopped on the tracks – I think that had been here a couple of months. I liked the rusted look and texture of the side of the car in front of the greenery.
To get a good design, I either start manipulating the photo in Photoshop on the computer or make a few small sketches trying out different arrangements.
I wanted to keep the railroad ties in front but I could not come up with a satisfying look in my sketches (see top sketch). I tried a closer crop on the computer and then drew it out. But the crop lost the lettering on the side of the train which added some variety. So I moved the one of the letters to the other side which also helped balance the design. See altered photo and second sketch.
In preparation for the small trial painting, I transferred the altered photo to the paper. On a scratch paper, I tested out some color combinations. (I try to avoid using too many from the tube colors and stick with 5 or 6 which I can then mix to gain other shades.)
This study really works so I am ready to paint a full size. I make sure that the study is in the same proportions as the final art.
I like to put areas of colors over the entire surface without worrying about details and allowing the colors to naturally blend, especially in a textured painting like this one. There were a few highlights I wanted to preserve as well as the ‘W’, so I applied liquid mask to protect the white paper in those areas before laying down any paint. (Other times I can either paint around the area or wipe off the paint while still wet).
Darker colors are then applied as well as second layers where the scene has ended up looking flat. Some paint is splattered or allowed to drip creating more textures. I dragged a dry brush with paint to create scratch and peel marks.
The mask is removed and I figure out which adjustments need to be made. Details are always last as well as the additional darks. I scratched out the grasses in the lower right shaded area with the back end of a brush while the dark paint was still damp. Then I added thin lines extending the grass in front of the car.
Whoo whoo! This painting is ready to leave the station.