This past weekend, I met with a woman who's getting started on her art career and who wanted advice on how to take her artwork to a more professional level. She works full time in a computer career right now, and her time for working on her artwork is limited. One of the most valuable things that I tried to share with her is the importance of doing initial, preparatory studies before starting on an "actual" piece.
Before I had the luxury of devoting myself full time to my art career, I would often dive into an idea because I was just so excited and I wanted to get going right away. But then I got lost in the middle. And then the whole thing ended up in the proverbial vertical file. This was enormously frustrating, especially because my time was so limited and I wanted to maximize my results while holding down a different full time gig. Fortunately, over the past years of working full time on my art, I've become more disciplined about completing preparatory studies. In addition, I've done a lot of homework about the importance of starting things well.
To me, the characteristics of a good start to a new piece include strong shapes, bold color, and an unambiguous concept. As I work more with oil painting, the importance of a good start becomes even greater to me because I'm still relatively new to this medium. If I can get things off to a good, running start, then I find that all of the remaining details and flourished naturally fall into place.
Shown here is the progression, from start to finish, of a brand new cityscape, "Chicago Twilight." This is my first new cityscape in oil for 2015 and I'm pleased with the result. You can see the finished photograph of this piece on my web site under Golden Chicago. Enjoy!
The initial block-in This is the foundation for everything else that follows. While it can be loosely set in, the drawing and shapes need to be accurate.
Refinements: Here I built in darker colors and more details to set the composition in place.
Color Touches: After getting the initial details in place, I start to embellish the overall color in this piece. The whole motivation behind this subject was the juxtaposition of the warm light and cool blues and purples throughout the subject.
Almost Done: Here, the final details are pretty much in place, especially refinements to the street lights and the architectural details on the buildings.
Just for Fun: An action photo of my palette. I love playing around with these colors!