I am asked quite often how long it takes to create a painting? Or how do you go about composing a painting? So I am sharing this “behind the scenes” look into my creative process for one of my smaller works, “A Walk in the Woods.”
When I came up with the name for my painting, I never knew there was also a book by that name! And a movie as well. I still have neither read the book nor seen the movie but here is a link to a review of the book. I guess I will need to read it as I have heard that it is very good and funny.
This particular painting has no relationship to the book, is a 30″ by 30″ canvas, and currently is available for sale both as the original art and as a print.
I was asked by an admirer of my art about why I chose yellow for the sky and background of the painting. I do not have a definitive answer for that, so I guess I was just in a yellow mood. (BTW yellow is my favorite color!)
Choosing to work with yellow as the background color created a new challenge for me. As yellow usually advances, I was plagued with the issues of making it recede and become the background and appear naturally as the sky and the leaves in the woods.
This photo is from the first day of painting. The subject was chosen from a photograph I took while walking in the woods in Ireland last summer. There is great foliage there, and all is lovely, I must add for those who have never experienced Ireland.
As I was painting the foremost tree, somehow the colors in the bottom of the trunk reminded me of a couple walking hand in hand, so I went with it. And the pair of trees in the center are reminiscent of human forms, so I repeated the couple there, albeit, the man has no head!
On the second day, I added more trees to the background and started on the blue flowers that are found everywhere in Ireland. When I was there, I fell in love with the flowers. There were these blue flowers that grew as ground cover in the woods I walked through.
I also added some dark line work to the trees, hinting at bark, and implied leaves on the dancing tree to the right. You will see the addition of more line work added to the painting as it dried and the layers were in place. It will turn out rather textural when it is finished.
The colors are still a little pungent but that will change as I continue to paint.
On day three I added more lines to the trees for definition and bark, The line work on my canvases has become one of my trademarks. I paint and then I draw on my paintings, sometimes with paint or oil pastels. Sometimes I use a stylus and scribe into the layers to expose the paint from the previous layers, both to add depth, and textural interest.
If you look closely at this painting, you will see how the female form (and headless male form) are taking definition now and the line work is swirling around the bark, creating the lines of their bodies.
I also added shadows coming forward onto the canvas.
On day four, I decided the blue flowers looked lonely so added some company for them, in the form of perhaps yellow lilies.
I also spent time working on the leaping or dancing tree to the right. More line work, leaves, and trees in the background.
I made some scruffy green and orange texture that I will use next session in the studio to scrape back into, adding depth and color.
I was still unsure of what I was going to do with the couple that are only shadows on the foreground tree…but they will somehow be worked into this scene.
Getting bolder on day five…even though I only had an hour to work on the painting, I think it progressed well. A renewed passion overtook my strokes and colors.
The yellow flowers needed company, too, so I created warmth and a bit of drama for them by the addition of the reds into the canvas. Shadows are now deep purple in the foreground. Grass is overgrown in spots, and I was beginning to feel the viewer being led into the woods a little deeper.
Shown above is the finished piece. I worked one more day on it and finalized it by filling in the gaps, intensifying the contrast and softening the yellow. I used the back end of a brush to scribe into the wet paint for the grassy area in the foreground. The couple in the tree? They became the subject of the painting…the couple what were walking into the woods of the unknown. Finished. Why? That is all I needed to do.
Now the story unfolds: Bright yellow skies bring happy thoughts as you begin your walk in the woods. Discover colorful flowers and look at the dancing tree and other figures waiting for your delight in discovery. Are you alone or are those trees watching over you?–and excerpt from “The Life Within the Trees” by Ronda Richley.
Would you like to see more posts like this? Just leave your comments in the comment section and I will answer questions or create posts that interest you.