a work in progress

This page shows the process from start to finish of one of my paintings. It's a "work in progress" or "all my painting secrets revealed". Enjoy!

Everything begins in my trusty Moleskine sketchbooks. 
I make lots of little thumbnail sketches to work out my ideas. 

This is the actual sketch that will become my painting for this WIP. The drawing is pretty small: 1.75 x 4.25".

After I finish the sketch I transfer it to a canvas (12x30") that I have coated with black gesso. I use a white charcoal pencil to do the drawing and I don't use grids or projectors to transfer the image. I just eyeball it. And I usually make minor changes along the way.

Here's a close-up detail of the drawing.

After the white charcoal drawing is finished I go over the lines with red paint thinned with Liquin.

This is how it looks once all the line work is finished. 

I then start laying in color in the shapes. At this point I am concentrating on the darker values and paying attention to how the colors work next to each other. Before I get to this step, I have an idea of my color palette which is almost always based on complimentary colors.

This is when it starts to get exciting! Ahhh....color!

Hint: all color looks more intense on black. Love it!

When the figures are about halfway finished I start laying in the background. The background is a mix of Gamblin Cold Wax medium and oil paint mixed to the consistency of frosting. I apply the paint/wax medium with a small palette knife leaving bits of the black canvas showing through. I also use the knife to soften the edges in some areas of the figures.

The foreground is finished and I have decided that I want the sky area to be very dark with a little red orange showing through. So at this point I brush on red orange thinned with Liquin so it will dry fast. I'm not very patient.

Here you can see that I've started applying a Prussian Blue mixed again with the cold wax medium over the red orange in the sky area.

A close-up of the background technique.

I then use a regular lead pencil to scratch into the background paint. This is where I really get to have fun! I scratch in bits of overheard conversations, song lyrics, funny things I hear on the radio while I'm working (yes, NPR actually can be quite humorous at times) and name ideas. Sometimes my to-do list even makes it on to the canvas.

A close-up of the scratchy background. Once the background is finished I go back into the figures with lighter values and highlights. At this point I use thick paint with no medium. 

Ta-da! The finished piece. All that's left to do now is the naming...and that requires a nice tall glass of wine.