This painting seems like it took a long time if I think about the first posts about it, the concept studies. But there have been several other paintings come to life in between the start of this one and now. So I thought that I'd sort of review this one by including all of the posts of the steps along the way, the finished painting, and some detail shots of it.
I'm happy that in the end the final painting is very close to one of these initial color comps. I chose the one on the right to paint. I preferred this idea because it kept almost the entire painting in a cooler open shade with just a little warm light sneaking in to the image. And I liked that there was vegetation to use compositionally to soften the transition between the egret itself and the reflections/background.
This was my initial block in for the painting. Remember that the linen that I was working on wasn't working with me. You can go back in the blog and read that if you don't know what I'm talking about here, I'm not going to take the time to re-hash it now. Let's just say that I dumped this one and re-stretched a new type of linen that became the final image.
In the meantime, I had my fill of the whole situation and decided to have some fun. :-) No I didn't paint Big Bird... just borrowed him digitally.
This is the first step, actually the first day, of the 'renewed' effort on a new type of linen. Things went much smoother on this new surface and it became a matter just putting on enough paint to cover the 1200 sq inches of paint surface. Of course it had to be in the right place, the right value, the right color, etc..
In this step you can see more development of the image. I began to add color into the reflections but knew that I still had a long way to go before making a final decision on the 'final' look of those reflections. For one thing, they had to reflect something... and 'something' wasn't painted into the painting yet. You can see where I did add a few weeds, just to give myself some idea of what to expect when it came time to add them all in. When I started to paint those in I knew that it would have to be one long day of work. I couldn't start them, get interrupted for a day or more, and then continue with any sort of cohesion to it all. But it was important to see what would be needed in terms of the scale, color and dimensional size relationships of the grasses.
A few days had passed between the last step and the start that led to this the final. That was a fortunate thing because it allowed me to oil out the painting, to rub a barely perceptible coat of an oil medium into the surface of the painting that would give me several days of working time, and that would let me paint into the painting as if the underlying surface was still wet. Painting into a dry painting is kind of like fingernails on a chalk board. I don't like the grabby, dry, chalky appearance of new paint on top of dried paint in a painting like this where subtle transitions are a necessity. The oil mix I use is walnut, poppyseed and clove oil. This keeps the paint wet for a long time... it's still wet. But the advantage is, as I mentioned, plenty of time to work the painting with pseudo 'wet into wet' edges and blending. When you oil out a painting, you first apply the oil with a brush or rag, then you wipe what you would think is ALL of the oil off. You do not want a detectable amount of oil on the painting. It's there however, even if you can't see it physically. And obviously, the painting better be completely dry or you'll be wiping off the previous work as well.
In between, the entire painting area was worked and reworked, with the exception of the upper third which was not touched at all. I take that back. I did drag some dry brushed color lightly over the dry paint, mostly cool colors to help push the area back.
The most enjoyable part of painting for me is when you have a coat of fresh paint on the painting that is still wet, to some degree. This sets things up for some very, very fun tactile sensations that result from dragging brushes loaded with wet paint into, against and across the still wet, but drying, paint surface.
That's when I feel like I'm a painter, manipulating, moving and modeling the paint as if it were clay.
In the end, I stuck pretty close to the initial concept, a success in that respect.
'Silent Wader' - oil on linen, 30x40 © Marc R. Hanson '10
The following are closeups of the painting...