This is a subject I’ve been wanting to paint for some time. When John and I visited Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia this summer we had to see the Woodshop, of course, John being a woodworker and all.
What was so awesome about it was these men were dressed in 1800’s era clothing and building real furniture, filling orders for pieces built with only hand tools, unplugged, as they did over a hundred years ago. As we listened to this woodworker talk about constructing these pieces the wonderful smell of sawdust filled the air while the sound of hand sawing hummed in the background.
A sketch helped me to explore some possibilities within the scene, but more importantly it’s the bridge between reality and the painting; it gets me even more excited about the potential in the subject!
During this block in I could fully see where I wanted to go with this. On the left side of the image were a jumble of chairs in various stages of being built. I wanted to include them, but a sketch would help me to boil them down to their simplest form.
Again, the bridge between reality and the painting. Thinking shapes, not things makes it so much easier to decipher what may first look like a complex area.
So many times I’ve heard John say “it’s all about the wood”, so that title just seemed my natural choice for this painting.
Back in the studio, from our trip to Virgina I was really looking forward to closing the door and getting lost in some paint. This new painting “In the Garden” was from a photo I took while on our recent vacation to Colonial Williamsburg.
My favorite area in the settlement was the garden. Every time we passed this area I said to John “what a minute let’s see what they’re doing now”. They were growing all kinds of herbs and vegetables, a small stand sold small plants while there were at least four costumed people doing “regular” chores in the garden, like using a sickle to clear weeds, hoeing with iron picks and sweeping with hand made brooms.
This young women really caught the feeling of the 96 degree, 80% humidity day. A little wilted, she appeared to me to be a great subject for a painting.
I started this differently that usual. My goal was to get the head in the right place, the right size, than work outwardly from there. I liked the feeling of working this way, there was a freedom about it.
Since this day was overcast the temperature of the painting was to be cool in the lights, warmer in the shadows.
Working downward and outward, adding more shapes, comparing them to what I already had on the canvas. Just had to interject this picture of my dog, Brandy. She was almost as happy I was to get back in the studio, she was in this position for most of the day.This is the hardest part. Looking carefully, not at what to add, but what to take away, a simple image is a strong image. I decided to remove the distant house in the upper left. The idea of a distant house was what I kept wanting to hold on to but the design element it made was doing nothing to help the movement in the painting and was instead acting as a distraction. There was also a horizontal fence in the photo which I put in, than took out.
In the final version I suggested some flowers at the horizon to bring the color in the skirt and apron upward.