Today I began work in the studio determined to make another stab at a stylized piece. I did some drawing to warm up, performing Picassoesque dissections on my models. Those I threw away. Then I did a drawing of Shawn walking on the beach which was hardly distorted at all, but I liked it so much I mixed up some paints and painted over the drawing. That one turned out nicely (it’s great when you have no expectations!).
I begin by doing some pencil sketches. The one shown at left below is fairly close to what I’m going for, but it needs to be even more dramatic. Still, I think I’m warmed up enough to start the final drawing (the one that I will actually paint over when I start painting).
I’m using a fairly heavy bristol for this painting, which allows me to do a lot of erasing and re-drawing on the underdrawing, which is good, because I’m still working things out. I make the horizon line slant down toward the left at an even more extreme angle and make the figure even larger. I like the energy of the drawing at this point, so I paint a purple wash over the top of it and while that’s drying, I mix my colors.
Key colors, I’ve decided, will be browns, earth yellows, blues and cadmium red, which is a hot reddish-orange. I start laying in the color at the top right because I always like getting the terrain laid in first—because I’m not good at mountains, hills and the like, so I want to get that over with. Surprisingly, the dry Diamond Head Beach slopes turn out fairly well.
Now I lay in the colors of the body and some of the ocean and beach around it. I start realizing I’ve been lucky, because the colors I initially mixed are working very well, with very little alteration needed. The same is true for the underdrawing. It’s wonderful when everything falls into place like this. At this point the painting is going beautifully but I have to stop and go for my afternoon workout. I’m a little worried that I will lose my momentum, but I hate the thought of missing my workout even more. So I go off to the Y.
A couple of hours later I’m back, and excited to continue the painting. Again, luck is with me—the momentum is still there and my decisions and brushstrokes are still right on. I’m doing something here that I often enjoy: letting colors ‘bleed’ out of their assigned areas. Letting the colors of the body run into the sky, for instance, or running some of the blue of the sky inside a shoulder or leg. I can get away with this when I’m using black lines to define forms. In fact, the black lines are so heavy, so powerfully literal, I feel I need to allow the colors to ‘defy’ them here and there.