Hi all of you. I've been thinking that would be nice to share with you how I made my recent painting called "Winter's Coming"
I visited my brother's place on 31st of October to help him just a little bit with the wood that he uses for his heating. After some chopping and cutting I made a few pictures of him in the cellar making finer wood chips. So here's my reference:
I got pretty lucky that a picture in its self had a quite good staging. I tried to get myself going with ballpoint pen preliminary (plus white chalk on toned paper):
BW preliminary sketch for "Winter's coming"
While doing a sketch I realised that in order to tell the story and the movement i.e. "gesture" I have to emphasise few things - so I intended to do the hands and the axe little bit bigger to push them closer to the viewer and to suggest more movement in my brother's right hand. After that I proceeded to small colour study in oils:
Preliminary colour study for "Winter's coming (4x6 inches on canvas) (you can see a little bit bigger hands and the axe and action lines in his right hand)
For this study I pushed colours in his hat and in the axe toward green to compliment reddish colour of his trousers. I declared that a warm grey of the hoodie is ideal and it will support both compliments. After that I proceeded for a final painting.
Winter's coming - beginning stage
Above is my beginning stage of the final painting. I started with a gesture, emphasising hands and the axe even more and putting even more movement to the whole body. I even tried to put more "air" into the back of the hoodie. I strived to have little bit cartoonish feel (something like Norman Rockwell). I would like to point on the fact that it is not about a mere coping of the photograph but more about telling a story and push your narrative as further as possible (but still maintaining believability) So this is basically the third time that I draw a picture freehand.
As for materials side of things I used a MDF board with two coats of white gesso and final coat of transparent gesso with tooth which I like so much (I don't like it slick). I used water soluble oil colours Cobra and great brushes Rosemary and Co. As I worked I used my photo reference in BW for proportions and my colour study for my mixtures.
Painting took about 3 days of interrupted work (I've got troubles to start - yep you have that right - procrastination) and I tried to stand the whole time in order not to lose sight of a whole picture and to maintain gesture within the picture - you can lose it so easily when you get into detail.
Winter's coming (17x24 inches, oil on gessoed board)
I love this kind of narrative work. There's something familiar in it I think even for a person who never met my brother. I hope that picture can give you a feeling of home, warmth or maybe makes you think about state of mind of the subject (I made him look somehow mysterious)
My opinion is that it is not about a single interpretation but more about what you (my audience) can derive from it based on your experience, feeling etc. And that is so magical in art I hope and that's the reason why I love it so much.
Stay warm, winter's coming! Petr