Leonardo da Vinci

Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.

--Leonardo da Vinci

Friday, October 14, 2011

Progression of a Painting

I have been wanting to show the progression of a painting from start to finish and i recently slowed down enough and remembered to take photos at different stages of the piece.
This painting was done in an afternoon in my basement, uh... i mean studio..... The photo that i used was taken at Steigerwald Refuge, during one of my treks down the path in search of a plein air subject to paint. I will often stop and take a pic when i see something that strikes my eye in hopes of using it in just this manner. So here we go......

I like to use a highly textured panel for my support. This panel is a former painting that i sanded down and gessoed over and reveals some wonderful texture.

The first thing i do is to tan my panel using a varied mixture of Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine and then loosely sketch my composition. Next, blocking in some shapes trying to lay in some darks, but sometimes i get a little antsy and my passion for color gets the better of me.

Introducing the background trees and sky

Here i have lightened up the hillside grass, established the foreground tree and layed in my highlights for the path which really allow the painting to take shape.

Path of Light 14x11

At last i add some touches of lights and darks in an effort to make things pop a bit, soften some background edges and add some foodle to the tree and i think were done. I really liked the way the foreground shadows act as stair steps into the painting, maybe a bit of a struggle to get past them (much like hiking), but the draw of the path leading you into the painting, i think, outweighs the initial struggles. Also, the big bushy tree in the foreground was an absolute joy to paint and keeps you from going off the panel. Oh, i should explain the foodle reference; its actually two words i enjoy saying that help me refrain from too much detail work...... Fiddle and Noodle - Foodle. Oops, i guess the Fox Terrier/Poodle mix beat me to it, darn poodles anyway.....


  1. I enjoy seeing the transformation from the blank canvas to the finished piece. Thank you for sharing your creative process.

  2. this is fun to see the step by step--I agree that the shadow on the road is a fine "entrance"...best of all, you've painted so much from life it all looks just like you painted it plein air....great light!