01 Nov

A Painting’s Evolution

Every once in a while I really struggle with painting and am reminded that it a) requires intense concentration, b) is hard work, and c) makes me very hungry! That was true of a recent painting in my Havana series, when I was under a deadline for my current exhibit, so I decided to share its evolution.

Inspired by a trip to Cuba, I was eager to paint its colorful cars and dramatic architecture. However, after three paintings I worried about repeating myself. The solution was to paint a less expected view of a more ramshackle side street. Adding to the challenge, I started with a light surface to show a very sunny day. Normally I use dark surfaces because I love how the pastel colors pop against them. Finally, I chose a reference photo with extreme shadows that created strong patterns on the street. All of these challenges proved “good for me” in the same way parents used to say spinach was.

I got frustrated, changed it numerous times, and really stretched my creative muscle before finally completing a painting I liked. Here you see the reference photo and three iterations of the painting on my easel. It wasn’t working because the shadows overpowered the cars and the buildings. I finally decided to eliminate the street shadow and the people, since autos and architecture are what this Havana series is all about. I added color to the buildings, which the camera “saw” as washed out by the sun. I adjusted values (dark and light areas) so viewers’ eyes would be drawn to areas I intended to emphasize.

Then I walked away and let it sit a while, before coming back to my studio with fresh eyes. Rinse and repeat. Several times. More challenging than expected, but a great learning experience. LOL  And it worked, as this was the first painting sold from my new series! You can see the finished painting under Portfolios and Travel on my website.


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