Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Step #1) Value Sketch/Thumbnail/Abstract Visual Idea

Step #2) Massing in my concept (painted on a panel with a previous underpainting)

Step #3) Massing in shapes/colour 

Step #4) Focusing on shapes

Step #5) "Very Glad", oil on panel, 16 x 6/34 inches

My daughter recently visited from London, UK and arrived with a beautiful bouquet of Gladiolas in hand. One of my favourite flowers! They were a constant reminder that she was with us and the final blooms helped keep fresh the wonderful, poignant moments we enjoyed together.

This painting was crafted on a panel that was odd-sized, hand-made and previously painted. The narrowed, long format strongly appealed to me and I found that the underpainting created some really interesting possibilities.  In combination the gladiolas and the panel made a perfect match for the idea I had in mind.

I began with a small 5x7 inch thumbnail sketch which allowed me to work out my idea quickly. A thumbnail/notan sketch helps me to develop the best design prior to jumping in to a painting.  I've found that in the long run, it saves a lot of time.  Too often I've found myself in the middle of a painting, working out ideas in paint that could have been resolved early on just by doing this simple sketch. Sometimes it requires a few sketches to come up with the best design. 

My aim was to keep the painting fairly abstract which the sketch helped me to do.  Once I got into the painting and needed a gentle reminder to stay true to my original idea, the sketch again proved to be very useful.

Step #1)  My visual idea - creating a concept or abstract visual idea

Step #2) I began by massing-in a very simple design to put the flowers into the space,

Step #3)   Focusing on the big shapes. Keeping things simple, I laid in the local colour and continued with the large shapes, looking for possibilities all the while.

Step #4) Going from the larger shapes I began to develop the more specific details, keeping things painterly with particular focus on making brushmarks.

The final painting, "Very Glad", oil on panel, 16 x 6 3/4.

These concepts and more will be covered in my upcoming 2-Day Still-Life Workshop, "Designing Your Painting/Composition", November 14 & 15, 2015, 1-4pm each day.  To register and read more about it visit Calgary School of Art.

And, you can read more about this workshop in my previous blog, along with some step-by-step photos for my "Painting the Figure (in an interior)" workshop, too! (see Workshop list in sidebar)

Please email me for a supply list.  I hope you'll join me!

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