Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Vertical One, Parts 2 & 3

What I've been doing Since Sunday's Post

I didn't post last night for obvious reasons. The tragedy in Boston (some 35 miles, 56km away) overshadows everything. But, in the spirit of "carrying on," here are some photos from yesterday and today.

On Sunday, I made the ballpoint pen drawing for the large vertical painting, and posted the photo of the drawing.

Yesterday, when I got to the studio, I drew in the basic composition on the 78" x 48" canvas, in charcoal. Apologies for this photo.

I then fixed the drawing, preparatory to making a grisaille. At the end of yesterday, it looked like this. I hadn't painted the top left corner.

This is painted with ultramarine and burnt umber. I'm not sure what will be beyond the trees. I'm also not sure what I'll do with the trees, generally. They have too even a bottom foliage edge. Plus, I haven't thought about what foliage belongs to which tree, or about sky holes. Not being sure what I want to do with the the possible edge of the trees-yet-to-come on the left side, I decided, for now, to paint them all the way out of the painting at the top. I can always design the mass later.

This is what it looked like, yesterday, on the easel----for scale (in black and white).

Today I worked on reinforcing the drawing. I added the trees at the upper left (for now), and added some transparent color all over the painting. I stress that it's all transparent color: burnt umber, ultramarine, permanent madder brown, Prussian green, sap green, transparent yellow oxide and ultramarine violet. You know me---no opaque color until you've made your decisions, and your drawing and values are correct.

You'll see, because I've only used transparent colors so far, that it has rather a watercolor feel. As I begin to use opaque paint, going forward, I'll try to keep as many transparent shadow passages as possible.

I need to think about sky holes, the general shapes of the bottom of the tree foliage, whether I'll keep the tree mass in the upper corner, and what I'll have in the distance, beyond the tree trunks.

One reason to fill the upper left with foliage is to confine the viewer to the road and the distance beyond the lane. If I allow sky, or some portion of distant landscape in that corner, it may draw too much attention, thus diluting the image.

Stay tuned!      


  1. Beautiful start and very engaging composition. I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

  2. Thanks a lot. Nice! - and very interesting - helps answer a few things I've been wondering about. Can you give the exact ref. of the transparent yellow oxide? Are any of the other yellows transparent? Do you have a maker preference for your burnt umber? Cheers... :)

    1. Jon...my giving you information about yellows is like aiding an addict. Nevertheless, the transparent yellow oxide I use (infrequently and sparingly!) Is Rembrandt #265. Although it's crazy for me to tell you, I also saw, but have never used, Rembrandt transparent yellow medium #272. I much prefer, among the various choices, Rembrandt burnt umber #409.
      Please don't augment the definition of "a jaundiced view".

  3. Great stuff Donald! Both the images and the dialogue give so much information. I was amazed at the dramatic change in feel with the addition of the upper left foliage. It really draws you along the road.

    1. Bruce, I sometimes think of a secondary motif, such as the possible view in the top left, as my main idea springing a leak, thereby dissipating its strength. You should always be on the lookout for compositional leaks.

  4. Hi Donald
    thank you so much for ALL your posts- they are so inspiring and helpful - and very generous of you to send them.
    Mary Altieri

  5. Thanks to Mary, Sunny, Jon and Bruce for commenting.
    I really appreciate it when readers take the time to do so.

  6. Thanks for responding (and being crazy ;( ). The comments are indeed interesting.

  7. Revelations of your working method are so helpful, and so inspiring! Especially at this scale - no fear! Thanks so much for sharing your process in such intimate detail.