Saturday, March 17, 2012

Two Big Endevours

So I've just finished two big paintings on canvas. I ordered the canvases in stretched and used a new firm. I was very impressed with the quality of their stretchers, very substantial. They're well stretched, so have been good surfaces to paint on.
 The initial canvases -  45X65 and 40X70

I decided to work on both painting simultaneously and to bring them both along at a similar rate. I arrived at this decision largely because the paintings are too big for my studio ceiling and the way I have my studio laid out (i.e. there's too much stuff in it). Well, there's just not room to work comfortably in there on something this size. So, I needed to haul all my painting gear to the garage and therefore getting both done at the same time seemed to make sense.

I consciously chose very different subjects, compositions and dramatically different color plans to keep the paintings very fresh and unique from each other.

I also treated one of the canvases with an extra thick coast of gesso primer, just as a bit of an experiment, it was interesting to see how the paint responded differently on each, and I think I can see a difference in the final pieces because of this. Though after the first layer of 'real' paint their was little difference in the application.

 Initially blocking in the line work and finding the forms. I worked here against the garage door, the paintings propped up on an ice chest. No time to miss the nice studio easel upstairs, it's far too big and heavy to move.

Not sure what I'm doing here, measuring, conducting?...

Blocking in the under-painting colors. The garage door opened provides lots of good natural light and working standing, bending and stretching isn't too bad as long as you keep moving. With a big canvas like this I like to block the under-painting colors in with a rag, or even a paper towel, coming in later with a brush for little incidentals.

In action putting in the background color.

The paintings progressing nicely.

Sunflowers lemons and bread
Acrylic on canvas              40X70.

(detail) I love the loose treatment I gave to some of this painting, with lots of broken color to allow the under-painting to shine through. The Pomegranates look great!

For years I never painted Sunflowers. I guess I felt too intimidated by those wonderful Van Gogh versions, then one day I had a go... And I've never looked back! They're such great flowers and so much fun to paint.

Lilies tangerines & lemons on red 
Acrylic on canvas                     65X45.

(Detail). It's a hard painting to capture for the camera, the dramatic contrasts of the table cloth and the background color compared to the subtle hues found in each lily. I think a lot of color is lost in the camera.

A peeled tangerine (Detail). I included this last picture to illustrate a broader looser treatment in this painting. I could have worked in more detail, but wanted the painting to keep fresh and bold with big ideas and not get too granular. Works great from a distance or at mid level and that exactly where the painting should work and where the drama should be!


  1. Great to see how you tackled such large pieces. I just avoid them! Thanks for sharing all the steps.

  2. beautiful paintings! what company did you use for the large canvases? I've had difficulty finding good quality pre-stretched with stretcher that don't warp. love your work - it's joyous.