Building a Painting

International Artist|April - May 2020

Building a Painting
This was a commission I did a few years ago. Out of necessity, I worked from a photo.
Ricky Mujica

However, I did not, nor do I ever project or trace. I’m not passing judgement on artists who do, it’s a totally valid choice, however, my feeling is that drawing is a skill that I must maintain, or I lose it. Pavarotti once said that he works on his voice by vocalizing every day. He said that if he misses a day, it can serve as rest. If he misses two, he notices and if he misses three the audience notices. Drawing is the foundation of representational painting. If I go a period of time without drawing, I lose that sureness that comes from doing it every day and people do notice.

My painting approach itself involves four passes which I liken to building a home. I think of them in terms of framework, walls, structure and making it a home.

STAGE 1 Framework: First Pass, Part I.

The goal for the first pass is a simple twodimensional representation of the subject with a clear representation of the lights and darks and a careful attention to the overall proportions, not only of the figure, but also of composition itself. Very often, I begin the first pass using soft vine charcoal. Because I’m not using solvents, the charcoal gives me back the little extra freedom and flexibility that I lost because I’m not using solvents. The main goal during the charcoal stage is placement and proportions. Not just the anatomical proportions, but also the proportions of the picture itself. The vine charcoal allows for easy changes.

STAGE 2 Framework: First Pass, Part II .

Once I’m done with the charcoal drawing, I lightly brush the charcoal away with a cheap chip brush from the hardware store. This leaves a ghost on the canvas. Then using a bristle brush, I redraw the lines using thin paint. My goal is to make a clear distinction between what is dark and what is light. I am also spending a lot of energy getting the proportions right. At this stage, I’m not thinking of the image as being three dimensional. I am purposely seeing the image as a flat representation of what is in front of me. Seeing the image as a collection of flat shapes and lines in front of me allows me to more easily acquire the correct proportions.


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April - May 2020