How a Painting Is Made, Part 6

I take pride in the fact that I have great readers, who seem to be endlessly forgiving of my dereliction of blogging responsibilities. I didn't set out to take a month-long break from writing, but... it happened. Sometimes I'm very good at striking a balance, other times it feels like I need to make a choice between painting and blogging. These last weeks, I've been painting like mad, and barely looking up.

In any event... I do have lots to show for it. First, though, I want to tie up an older loose end, which is my series of walk-through posts showing the creation of one painting, start to finish. For those of you who haven't seen the previous articles, you can view them here (it's in reverse order, unfortunately). This will be the ultimate post in the series.

We are now at the final step, applying the color layer. The underpainting has provides a fantastic base, so this stage almost always proceeds very smoothly. Nearly all of the other problems have been worked out, so from here on out I can focus on one thing, and one thing only: identifying, mixing, and applying luminous beautiful color as accurately as I possibly can.

Though it's not clearly reflected in the series of images I took, I often start at an important edge; in this case the edge between the head of the bodhisattva statue and the background. Well-painted edges seem to me like one of the most important elements in conveying a dynamic sense of realism; it's where all the drama is.

From here, I'll begin to fill out the statue, paying close attention to the temperature of the color, which is critical for accurately rendering metals.

Even though I have worked out the values (lightness and darkness) in the earlier stages, there's still a lot of checking, fine-tuning, and adjusting.

Here I'm beginning to work on the mouse. Catching the reflection of the blue cloth on the underside of his jaw is very important for further developing the story of the lighting.

Capturing the way in which the light darkens on the mouse's back as it turns away from the light source is critical to developing the 3-dimensional illusion.

The objects are essentially complete. Although they're often relegated to a secondary status, I really can't emphasize enough how important I feel the so-called "backgrounds" are; in this case, the backdrop and the underlying blue cloth. Painting the context can really make or break the effort; I try to be as careful and thoughtful here as I possibly can, particularly in describing the way the light modulates and changes across the large flat planes of color.

And... the completed painting (I'll include a larger image as a separate post):

So... there you have it: the complete path to a painting, beginning to end. I hope you all have enjoyed this small journey as much as I have. For the rest of this coming week, I plan to be posting recently completed work. This month, I plan to complete several larger pieces, so I think I'll be posting a number of in-progress shot of those as I go.