Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Process By Andrea Pratt

I'm almost there. I put the varnish on the final painting yesterday morning and framed the final drawing last night. I'd hoped to be able to pull off one more painting before the show, but no luck. While working on the last painting I thought I'd photograph it at various stages as I'd never done that with any of my landscapes.

I begin a painting with sketches and/or photos from my files, and draw the basic shapes quickly onto the blank canvas. Then I lay the underpainting down thinly. This is an important part of my process, though not always as successful as I'd like. I usually want the underpainting to be darker than the final work as I want its presence to be 'felt' and that's easier to achieve when painting light on dark. Though a lot of the process is intuitive, I do try and choose complementary colours (a la the colour wheel) to lie under the surface colours, to give it a bit of 'zing'. I use red a lot.

When the underpainting is laid down, I do a quick sketch, with a small sable brush, over the top in 'silver' (iridescent white with a little black). This means that when you see the painting at an oblique angle, you get a bit of shimmer around some of the edges of the shapes (impossible to show in these images). That's also why I use 1.5" deep gallery-wrapped canvas and continue the image around the sides: it creates the illusion that the painting occupies a three-dimensional space.
Once that's done I start work on the 'real painting'. I have no set order of process, though I often choose the more difficult parts first for practical reasons; if I can't nail them, then I can cut my losses and run! In this case I chose to do the top half of the painting first (trees and sky). You can see the underpainting peeking out around the trees.

At this point I got so involved with the painting that I completely forgot to take a next photo, and then one after that, so we jump ahead to the final product. After doing the bottom half of the canvas I went through the "this is such crap" phase where I repaint parts, sometimes two or three times (though with each layer I lose surface integrity so try and keep that to a minimum). For example, check out how the sky has changed between the second and final photos.


I am always awed by landscape painters whose work just flies off their brushes, nary an error to correct nor a hair follicle to yank from skull. One day maybe...

posted by Andrea Pratt January 24th, 2006 on her "Colouring Outside The Lines" blog.

Copyright © 2006 - All Rights Reserved - Andrea Pratt. Andrea Pratt is an award-winning artist whose work is exhibited internationally. Check out her "Andrea Pratt" website for more info. http://andreapratt.homestead.com

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