Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Demo - Enlarging a Painting PART I

We all know I'm too lazy with photography to do demos of my work more often, but I've been working on an enlargement of an old painting for the past couple of weeks, and I actually managed to take some photos along the way that I thought I'd share.

I did the original painting about a year and a half ago, right after Aspen was born. Nate decided it was his favorite painting I'd ever done, so I kept it and it hung above our fireplace until about a month ago when a collector saw it on my website and got my gallery here in Winter Park to convince me to part with it. Here's the original 16x20" oil on canvas:

In the meantime, I had mentioned to the gallery that I wanted to paint the same scene on a larger scale and they had some interest, so I decided to go ahead with the larger painting. In enlarging this painting, I wanted to open up the composition a little bit to give the trees more room to breathe, and make the branches more lyrical.

I started with a loose sketch on 24x30" gessobord - nothing too detailed, since the subject is fairly organic and I'm wanting the painting to stay loose:

Next step was to start the block-in. I used a thin acrylic wash to start this one, mainly because I wanted it to dry quickly to I could start working over it with thicker oil paint the same day. One of the main reasons I do a block in with thinned paint is to eyeball the composition, and I like it to be dry before I continue so that I can fix any issues without having to fight wet paint underneath. Anyhow, in this case I started with the darkest darks:

Next, I blocked in the midtones in the pine tree and foregound grasses, keeping things simple and loose:

Then I painted in the trail and the lighter grasses in the foreground:

Once the foreground was in, I blocked in the sky, indicating where the sky holes would be in the pine tree to give it more shape and dimension. At this point, I was just trying to get things in the right place. I wasn't super concerned with my color and value being right on, especially since I was working with cheap acrylics!!

Finally, I blocked in the aspen trunks, indicating their main shape without doing much modeling, and locating where most of the knots would be. In reality, these trees had people's initials carved into them all over the place. I could actually read the name "RON" on one of the trees in my reference photo, but I obviously decided to ignore it in the name of artistic license!

So, at that point, the block-in was finished and I was ready to start refining things in oil. And that's where I'm going to break for now - the painting's done, but "So You Think You Can Dance" is over (I'm SOOO addicted to that show) and it's my bedtime, so I'll continue tomorrow.

Oh, and sorry about the shadow from my easel at the top of the painting in all of these photos. That's what I get for having my studio lights almost directly above my head...


  1. Thanks a lot for this demo, I'll learn a lot from it, very nice painting!

  2. That is a great painting. It is good to see your approach on the block in Stacey. It is interesting that you go so far into the color work with the acrylics. Do you do that a lot?
    We like to keep some around the house for a while too, but unless I actually give them to my wife, they are all eventually for sale.
    I do watch "So You Think You Can Dance", but "so you think you can paint" would be a fun one. We do get into some of the reality shows. I always thought that a project runway turned plein air would be a blast. "Painters, five minutes"

  3. Helene - thanks, I hope it helps you!

    Frank - I know, I'm starting to realize my approach with the acrylics is a bit unorthodox, but it works really well for me, so I do it for pretty much any painting I do that's larger than a 14x18"! And yeah, they DO need a painting reality show! Although I suppose it wouldn't have as much mass appeal as the current offering of reality shows (why are there so MANY?).

  4. Thank you, Stacey, for your generosity in showing those steps and sharing your thoughts.
    If you get that painting show going, count me in!

  5. I really like the progression pics.