"Sour Milk Gill" Oil Painting by James Swanson

"Sour Milk Gill" Oil Painting by James Swanson
"Sour Milk Gill" From the award winning painting series.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Beginning of the Beginning.

In this painting series I usually show how I go about a painting, but for this one I am adding a bonus section.  I'm going to show you a behind the scenes look at how I go about making a scene ready to paint. And then I will paint it.

The Cafe photo that I'm working with comes from Traveler and Artist friend Franklin of Morlanwelz, Belgium. Franklin and I have known each other for a few years and swapped photo reference before. This photo is of a cafe bar in Antwerp Belgium.

"Would have loved to see more people in here ....But look at those reflections of light and the shadows."
- Franklin

This is Franklin's Antwerp Theater bar scene. It does have wonderful lighting and a dynamic feel to it. I loved it when I first saw it and had it in the back of my mind to paint for a while now. Happy to finally get to it!

Here is my first step in starting this painting.

I'm flipping it. The girl sitting works much better facing left than she did facing right. It lead the eye off the image- which is never a good thing. I am also lighting the image. I need to see in the shadows a bit more. Even if I don't paint in all the details I need to know what everything is so my strokes can be more meaningful.
While I'm lighting the image I also push the saturation a bit, just enough to see the color in the shadows and highlight.
Here is how I am going to attack this painting. Like always I will tone the canvas. Thinking ahead it will probably be a mix of Venetian Red and Burnt Umber. Or I might swing back and use some Burnt Sienna. either way I will rub it in and then rub off the highlight areas and draw in where everything goes. 

After mixing up the colors for this painting, I will start painting in the structure of it. I work from dark to light, so I will paint in all my dark areas- curtains wall and chairs. Making sure that even being my darkest darks that they read as a color.
This photo montage is sort of how it will look when I get this part done.

Next I will attack the floor and walls and start to give the chairs I choose life. 
It's a beautiful floor and the reflection with the light coming across it is so cool and interesting.
This photo montage is sort of how it will look when I get this part done.

When the floor is done I will paint in the refection and sun light. The people in the scene I'm not even going to think about until after I get the windows started.
This photo montage is sort of how it will look when I get this part done.

The next step is to paint the windows in. They are the lightest things in the scene and are 
painted in last.
The people in the scene at this point will look pretty much like this.

And finally I will get to the people. I know they have been waiting, but first things first. To paint the people in sooner would tighten up the whole painting process. Since the people are small they have to feel as if they were painted with the same brush as everything else or they will stand out like a sore thumb.
With a plan I am making for this painting I will start the real painting process and post the results here as I finish them. I will be painting this with my painting class and will share their take on this great photo reference as we move along. As always a big thanks goes out to my friend and Traveler Franklin, see you all on down the road.

To see more of the Artist and the Traveler painting project go to www.theartistandthetraveler.org