In The Garden, a painting demonstration


Before I started this painting I did a value sketch. It helps me organize the painting and “get to know” the subject, foreseeing possible problem areas. I spent my time sketching the drawing on the canvas, not for the details but for placement of the big shapes and proper angles. A subject like this needs careful balance, the main character placed an inch to far one way or the other could ruin the effect. I blocked in the hat first, roughed in the face, than the background to get the value relationships off to a solid start.


I move around, blocking the areas in. I try to keep things general but accurate.The pink shirt is all very close in value so I look for temperature changes within the color range. The shirt is a warmer pink (or orange) in some areas and cooler pink (or hot pink) in other areas. I worked the apron in a similar way, see the warmer and cooler grays?. I know I want a texture effect in the ground as well as the distant planter so I start some roughed-up brush work.



I slow down and block in the hands and flower. I’m still not putting detail in but since this is the secondary interest I want to get the character of what is happening through simple color shapes. I’m always asking myself “how little can I put in and let
the viewer finish it?”



I move to the other side of the painting to develope the area in opposition, but not more than the secondary interest area. Now that I am happy with the undertones in the apron I put in the pattern. I want the effect of pattern without being too literal. I refine the pink shirt, adjusting the values, adding wrinkles, but only the ones that help with the motion I want, too many would break it up.


Refining the area to the left of the figure furthur – when this area is developed as far as it needs to be, it tells me how far I will have to develop the other flower to the far right in order to make it more important. This is why I try to work around all areas, then go back to finish. Everything is relative to something else in the painting. It’s
also why I need to make definate decisions about what I want to be important.

IMG_158I worked on the hands and flower on the right, looking carefully for the temperature changes on the different planes. Such as on the top plane of the hand, the sky reflecting down made it more a violet, the underside gets warm light reflecting up from the ground etc. Then finally the face, which I turned the painting upside down to paint. I did this because there were various subtle things going on here, that were easier seen as shape, color and texture instead of a preconceived idea of what a face should be.

4 Replies to “In The Garden, a painting demonstration”

  1. wow…you make it look effortless but your careful consideration at every step shows that it is anything but effortless. Love this quote: “how little can I put in and let the viewer finish it?” For some reason I thought you might appreciate this painter who seems to carefully consider every brush stroke.


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