Archive for September 28th, 2009

GC Myers 2009 UnderpaintingSo I’ve been working on this large painting, a 42″ by 60″ canvas, as I noted in Saturday’s post.  When I last wrote I had just blocked in the lower parts of both sides and had the bridge just sort of sitting alone in the middle.  Since then I have continued with the underpainting in the red oxide that I prefer to use.  Most of this is applied in an almost dry brush way, where I put my brush into paint then swab a lot of it off before applying it to the canvas.  It leaves a lighter layer of paint, allowing the black underneath come through.  It takes a bit longer but it suits the way I see the thing building and growing.

It also takes a lot more time than one might suspect in growing the village from the start, especially in a way that makes it feel organic and not just thrown together.  Each new element informs the next and there is a bit of time spent just looking at each piece to make sure that it plays off the form below and beside it.  This is even more crucial in such a large canvas because I’m trying to maintain a continuity of form throughout the whole piece so elements in different areas of the canvas still relate to one another.

As the village grows upward I begin to try to decide how I want it to transition into either a background or sky or if I want to simply have the structure fill the entire picture plane.  I decide here that I want to have sky so I start to think of how I will have the structures end near the top of the canvas.  As I’ve been looking here I have chosen to have the village move into a somewhat empty landscape and that  into the sky.  I want to create a saddle-like structure with the landscape so that the light I create in the sky will be cradled by the landscape below.  I often do this in my work and I think it has to do with this cradling effect holding the light in a way that brings the eye to the lowest point, creating a focal point off of which the rest of the painting plays.  It’s a funny feeling writing about this because when I’m making these decisions, it’s very seldom near the front of my mind.  They’re just done in stride, instinctually,  as I’m taking in what I’m seeing.

GC Myers Underpainting DetailI’m also at a point in the canvas where I have a bit of space at the lower center of the piece, around the bridge and banks of the waterway.  I start to fill in this area, adding detail although it’s not real fine detail.  I want this space to have interest and detail but not so much that it becomes the sole focus of the work.  I see the light that I will create where the sky meets the landscape in this painting as the more important area of focus, conveying more of the feeling that I’m hoping will emerge.

So I keep working upward and as I near where I feel I want to stop the structures I begin to start get a feel for how the landscape itself will continue.  Here’s where I am at this point and where I’ll leave it for now.

GC Myers 2009 Underpainting

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