My method of painting is called indirect painting. Indirect painting requires an underpainting, an initial layer of paint on the canvas or painting surface to help create values. The underpainting may be grisaille, monochromatic, or even multicolored.
The idea of an underpainting is that the first applied coat of paint will be covered with additional layers of opaque and transparent glazing colors that modify the opaque layers below. The paint is allowed to dry between each layer. The glaze layers are applied over lighter paint, generally, so that the layers mix visually with those below it and create a translucent effect not easily achieved by using opaque paint. Building up the glazing helps to reflect light and create luminosity and depth.
Because I rarely paint directly outdoors, I rely heavily on taking preliminary photographs with my digital camera. These images are used as a resource to inspect details about the scene that I want to later reference in my painting. Over the years I have developed an eye for what would make a good painting. Very often, candid shots turn out to be the most interesting to work with. I currently use the graphics program Photoshop Elements. In Elements, I can enhance, crop, and adjust the color saturation in the photograph that most accurately matches my vision.
All of the digital photographs that I take I store on my computer and index it according to month and year. This system of organization allows me to later pull up an image that I want to use for a new work of art. For example, the picture below was taken in March of 2017 on Gayman Road, Bucks County, PA. This winter scene was photographed later in the day when the sunset spotlighted my subject. Continue reading.