In this article I’m going to show my process when working from photographs. This is not an extensive tutorial but should provide you with some ideas as to my working procedure.

Reference

Usually I work from a single photograph but also take into consideration other images from the area. I study the locale, look for hints and symbols, hidden patterns inherent to the scene. I want to get the feel of the place and understand it.

Painting A Pattern: Reference
Painting A Pattern: Reference
Painting A Pattern: Reference
Painting A Pattern: Reference

The image above is the one I’m going to work with. I never crop my images, but in this case I did for the sake of this demonstration. The cropped version is shown below.

Painting A Pattern: Reference
Painting A Pattern: Reference

This is a very rough reference for me as I don’t particularly feel the need for exact reproduction. If I can understand the place well, I am free to make shapes that both convey the feel of the place and make me happy.

Pre-Painting Considerations

I sketch out several ideas and reactions to the subject. I look for a good constellation of shapes and patters. The first step is a line drawing. This is where I recognize patterns, rhythms and movements inherent to the subject. I emphasize them. If the scene lacks them, I create new relationships.

I get to know my subject through these drawings and often end up with 10 or more such sketches.

Nowadays I don’t actually proceed beyond line drawings to make a value study. But I strongly recommend that you do so. I do think about my value pattern before I start but I seldom feel the need to put it down for reference.

Painting A Pattern: Working out Ideas
Painting A Pattern: Working out Ideas
Painting A Pattern: Working out Ideas
Painting A Pattern: Working out Ideas
Painting A Pattern: Working out Ideas

What I look for, in this case, is to capture the exotic nature of the place. I want to suggest the buildings but want to complement them with strong presence of palms and greenery.

The Painting Process

You can see complete painting process in the following video.

Finished Painting

I painted 9 paintings from these sketches and none of them felt repetitive. They range from less to more abstract and from more faithful to the reference to less so. Following is an example of one of the earlier versions.

©2017 Daniel Novotny, 810. Watercolor on Paper, 11 x 15 in.
©2017 Daniel Novotny, 810. Watercolor on Paper, 11 x 15 in.

You can see just how different the result can be while working from the same reference.

©2017 Daniel Novotny, 820. Watercolor on Paper, 11 x 15 in.
©2017 Daniel Novotny, 820. Watercolor on Paper, 11 x 15 in.

Today’s version emphasizes the strong visual pattern of light and dark and the visual path of the interconnected white shapes that are varied in size and direction and emerge from the amalgam of middle-value shapes suggesting foliage and natural rhythms, evoking the feeling of excitement.

I hope you enjoyed this new format with the complete process and more information as to my thinking process. Let me know in the comments down below. Also, please consider sharing this article on your favorite social sites. Thanks for reading.

-Daniel

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: “Shape Makers” Painting Demonstration & Lesson [w/ Video] – Atelier Novotny

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