Clearly I’m posting completely out of sequence on the progress of this painting. ‘Tales of Tomorrow’ has already been finished for a few weeks. Occasionally I am invited to document the creation process of a painting for Quent Cordair Fine Art, my primary gallery representation, for a feature on their website called ‘The Artist’s Studio’. I began posting progress on ‘Tales of Tomorrow’ there while my website was down for maintenance, so now I’m playing catch-up on both sites. Some of the other artist’s represented by Quent Cordair Fine Art have posted step by step process posts for their work in ‘The Artist’s Studio’ as well, and I highly recommend checking it out. I love getting insight into how other artists approach their craft.
So now, back to painting the sisters reading under the tree:
Before I could start working on the younger sister, there was all that grass between the two girls that needed to be painted. Did I mention I like to work in layers?
Obviously, the closer in the picture frame I am working, the higher the level of detail I need to render, and at this point that means I’m painting a lot of individual blades of grass. Rather than try to adhere exactly to the grass in my reference photos, which would be more than a little crazy and completely unnecessary, I used the reference photos just for the basic lay of the land and rough local color reference. That meant that I was basically making up the grass as went, which turned out to be a relaxing and quite enjoyable way to spend a couple of days. I even decided to throw in a few 6-brush-stroke flowers. I stopped as soon as I got to the point where the grass was starting to overlap the legs of the younger sister.
As long as I has a palette full of lovely green paint, I spent a little time refining some of the other foliage in the painting, adding some areas where the sunlight was shining through the translucent leaves.
When going from painting lots of adults and older children to painting a two-year-old, be advised: their heads are basically spherical. I had continually stop myself from putting angles and planes where they didn’t belong. She was a lot of fun to paint, though…especially little things like the rim light around the left edge of her hair and shirt and the sparkles on her pink shoes.
I did end up changing a few things. My model had just the slightest hint of red in her hair, but I decided to push it further because I liked the contrast with all the green around her. I also changes the print on her shirt from a large butterfly pattern to the smaller planetary theme. The original felt a little too busy.
In spite of the fact that this little girl has weird ghost arms at this point, I stopped working on her for the time being. The combination of pigments in her yellow shirt proved to be unusually slow drying. Everything was going so smoothly, and the closer I got to finishing the painting, the more nervous I became about making some little mistake that would set me back. Something like accidentally smearing a little yellow shirt all over the place while painting arms.