Work-In-Process - The Making of "Over"

Just finished a new painting - Over, 24"x30", oil on canvas:

C. Rasmussen, Over, 2015. 24"x30", oil on canvas. 

This is part of my She Was Just a Dream series, which is about memory, loss and the things we leave behind. In "Over," I wonder: how did the garment get there? Which way was the person who discarded it going over the fence? Is the viewer looking back at something they left behind, or witnessing someone else's strands of memory?

Here are some photos of the work-in-progress; the "behind-the-scenes," if you will. Starting with blocking in the main shapes, I created the fence lines with some tape (the blue stuff).


Adding some details on the shipping container (left-hand, lighter green shade). Typically, dark colors recede so you don't put them in the foreground, but since I wanted this view of the dark green fence in the foreground, I had to add a lot of layers to it to make it bolder and bring it forward. 

Adding this case, lots of lines. This is a slightly larger painting than I've been working on recently, so I didn't realize when I began what a commitment that fence would be. I had to do 3 passes on the metal - one for the primary shape, then one for the shadow and one for the highlight. The process alternated between being meditative and monotonous, but I got through it by listening to some exciting audio books! Namely, Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series. 

I really enjoyed adding the barbed wire at the top of the fence. Barbed wire holds a special place in my visual memory...but that's a story for another day. 

The final aspect was adding the discarded garment - in my signature red, which turned out a lot more pink in this painting. Sometimes that just happens...

And just so you don't have to scroll all the way to the top, here's the final result again:

C. Rasmussen,  Over , 2015. 24"x30", oil on canvas. 

C. Rasmussen, Over, 2015. 24"x30", oil on canvas. 

Making of "Shadows"

One of my original ideas for this blog was to post in-progress paintings so people can have a look into my process and/or get painting tips.  Since I haven't been able to paint in awhile, here's a step-by-step guide to an older painting - "Shadows", completed in June. Sketch: I often find that students new to painting want to draw with pencil on their canvas before starting with paint. I never do that. I map out my composition very simply with a brush and some paint like so. You can see how I changed the size of the figure dramatically, not worrying about erasing because I was just going to paint over it anyway.






Color & Texture: Next, I start blocking in the painting, making adjustments and adding texture as I go. Painting is a very layered process for me, so there are often layers that never see the light of day, but add a richness (both in body/texture and in color) to the final painting.

I have been on this kick where when I use photographic references, I print them out in black and white and then paint my own colors. This has some challenges but also adds a level of mystery and excitement for me, the painter, because I'm letting the painting tell me where to go.




Figure: In this case I painted the figure and her dress in monochromatic colors because I was planning on glazing the colors on later. I purposefully kept her skin very light, while keeping the dress dark because I wanted the glazing to be more subtle on the dress.






Details: The picture I was working from was a night scene, so all the colors got more bluish in this stage. I also added more detail around the figure.







Glazing: I finally got to the glazing stage, but by this time had decided I didn't want to glaze any of the skin. I liked that it was fresh looking and yet nostalgic because the burnt sienna base made it look like an old-fashioned tinted photograph.

Critique stage: At this point I felt kind of stuck with the painting, so I went to the art collective I am a part of to get some some constructive criticism from my peers. It's always good to get some outside feedback, to point out glaring errors and/or minor tweaks that make a world of difference.




Final: The suggestions I got were most helpful and definitely helped finish the painting. By darkening a shadow here and changing the direction of a line there, I was able to get a better and more effective painting.

I was also reminded to include reflective light. This means, simply, that if the reddish dress is next to the purple pail, then there should be some purple on the dress and some red on the pail. Likewise, there is some color in the shadow from whatever object is casting the shadow.