I have been asked at times to show how I paint a picture, so here I have taken a series of photos of the work as it progressed.
In this case I chose a carved stone Cambodian head that sits in the garden as the central focus, a woven throw in many colours as a backdrop, a brass pot containing a cactus, some flowers from the garden in a glass jar and two green apples
In step one, I roughly drew in the outline of the various elements and then tried to quickly paint in the main colours of the throw. I have used acrylics for this work.
Step two involves roughing in other elements such as the brass bowl and plant material. I try to get an idea of the placement of the negative spaces to give some form.
Step three, a bit more colour and form – it is really fun standing back and starting to feel the image come to life. I get back from the painting often and just observe. I always like to have music playing – often classical but also Dire Straits, Santana, Annie Lennox or Queen. It all helps to get into the ‘zone’.
Step four. You can see some of the edges starting to appear and its really important at this stage to know where your lights are – they help to give that three dimensional impression. I love to play with reflective surfaces, they provide a lot of life to the image.
Step five. Lots more colour and deepening of the shadows and looking closely to see where the reflections are and start to get the shapes closer to ‘real’. At this stage I was excited about moving onto the intense detailed carving in the headdress – it was important to live with it for a while and get to really ‘see’ it before I started to paint it because I wanted to get it right first time.
Step six. The headdress is coloured and the apple in the foreground has its highlights. I need to look more at the background and how I want it to look – I do not want it to overshadow the foreground or to be too flat.
Step seven. There are now some folds in the cloth of the background and I have really tried to put in more contrast between the head and the brass bowl. The cactus is starting to take shape as well as the simple flowers in the glass vase. I like to try to play off contrasting colours to give some ‘pop’ – I love colour.
At the end its a matter of tidying up, there are some shadows on the head’s face from the cactus, some of the detail is more clearly defined and I have rubbed back with water some of the very dark shadows in the cloth to give a softer feel. At some point you have to decide to stop and I like a ‘looseish’ feel in my work, so don’t want to do much more – I’ll sit with it now for a few weeks and then decide if it’s finished.