This is the last of the grey car studies since this month and it’s project is over. The next step would be to take them to finished work but I am not sure what that might look like, perhaps more of a scene than individual portraits? And they are portraits. All my cars are anthromorphic. In the long hours of their painting great tales begin to be imagined about their thoughts and feelings. This one is lonely and wistful. What is significant about that river? (I do wonder if all paintings become self portraits.)
To finish up I’ll show some of my process. This one was just three layers (the first was a crazy scrub-in to get the basic shapes and positions, which I forgot to photograph, but can still be seen in the trees). The second layer, shown here, has some refinement. Decisions are beginning to be made, but it is still rough and optional.
Next layer is about narrowing down the options and making up my mind where things will be. I decided the river was more important – so made it wider and shaped up the shrubbery to let more be seen. With each decision like that there are more to be made. (My personal take on Murphy’s Law is that ‘Every problem solved, creates two more!’) In this case the brightness of the water needed to be balanced by darkness. The shadow should be the darkest, but the car is already dark. So the car must go lighter, so the shadow can go darker. Etc. Etc. That’s why they take so long.
Just to show that I am not mechanically plodding on with this month of grey cars – where ever possible I mix them up in size, format and design – to keep it interesting, make them harder and keep thinking.
This week they’ve been bigger and wider. The previous studies were all in the 4:3 proportion while this one has changed to my favourite 2:1 – the wide format better suiting the shape of this single car portrait. Selecting a panel to suit the subject rather than simply filling what you have with ‘padding’ such as a sky can make a strong image out of something that could be rather ordinary.
Three this week in this series of grey car studies. I can’t quite articulate what I’m looking for other than to say it’s a deeper understanding of how a car works visually. They are great things to paint because their designers care very much about how they look for every single angle – each degree of turn is a little different and still good. For the painter that is fascinating.
This was supposed to be another in the series of grey studies I’m working on this month (aiming at three or four each week which is about as many as I can manage because they take several layers and a couple of days to finish).
The last thing was that tail light. I don’t know what came over me. Even as I deliberately walked to the other side of the studio to get the two reds I would need I couldn’t muster the self control to stick with the plan. Even walking back to the easel the mischief had me.
Isn’t it odd how something that starts out as a study could almost be called a painting with just that little splash of colour. It would need a title and a signature, of course. I’ll think about it.
I have decided that acrylics really are good for studies because there’s almost no waiting between layers of paint, which means I can do more of them, more quickly, learn what I want to learn and move on.
Yes, I did notice that this one has several symbols of manliness!
Intrigued by the speed of drying of the gouache the other day reminded me that acrylics might be good for studies too. For a couple more months anyway. Once it gets hot it would be impossible so if I want to try now is my moment.
A big painting is a big commitment in both time and materials (and while nothing is being sold the availability of materials is a problem). The answer is to do small studies, sometimes lots of them. The design began life as a Saturday plein air (painted almost a year ago) that I think might have potential to go bigger.
So began a series of small colour studies. They are all oil on panel. Some were painted over. Others I didn’t photograph. It does perhaps gives an idea of the work that goes on behind the curtain.
And this one which was an mixed media experiment (with watercolour pencil and ink washes on a scrap of unprimed canvas) as well as being a closer look at the truck…
Then, wait a month or two, and try again with the oils…
Maybe it needs to be bigger and have different proportions…
Another plein air study in Malaga (an industrial area near Perth, Western Australia not the one in Spain). Mid winter here, not too cold, but drizzling rain and windy.
Painting in such conditions is a little more athletic than normal because it’s necessary to hold onto the easel at all times. Let go and it will probably fall over. Cleaning or changing brushes – the spare brushes are in my bag, the turp pot next to it – are on the ground at my feet. You will need to imagine the contortions.