Yet another painting from Karin Jurik’s excellent “Different Strokes From Different Folks” challenge.
I’ve never been to the Jefferson Memorial, and the reference photo didn’t offer a lot of information, so I had to do a little research on this one so I could understand what I was seeing. I couldn’t tell if we were on the water side, or the land side. Knowing this was important because I wanted to brighten the dark foreground area with reflections, and I needed to know what kind of reflections to paint.
First, I pulled up the satellite image on Google Earth and calculated where Karin stood to take the photo. Okay, it looks like she was facing northeast, perhaps standing in the drive or just to the west of it. That helped me to determine that we are probably looking at an asphalt drive, cement sidewalk, and lawn in the foreground.
Here’s where it gets really anal: Early on, I was thinking about putting stars in the sky, so I switched to the Google star charts, because I wouldn’t want the wrong stars in the sky. This is a well-known monument, and there are people who would appreciate that kind of detail. Eventually I nixed this idea and went for a looser look. Still, I like knowing Cassiopeia is there somewhere. Some people can copy the colors and shapes they see in a photo and create a great painting, but I need to be able to put myself in that location in my mind and paint from “life.” I need to feel the night air on my face and know where the North Star is, even if I don’t paint it.
Next I started studying photos and reading about the monument. I figured out why the light on the dome looks the way it does, almost like flourescent rings. (The lights focused on the dome are behind short “walls.”) I learned that the tree I’m painting is probably a cherry. I stopped before I got too carried away with what was happening on the interior of the building.
Here are some photos I took during the painting process:
I started with a blueish-blackish-reddish background, and left much of it exposed. Like Karen said, it’s best to work from dark to light when doing nocturnes.
I thought I’d keep the sky smooth and add some stars, but that wasn’t working. It was so boring. So I repainted the sky wet-in-wet using all the colors used in the painting, and kicked up the reds a bit in the rest of the painting to tie it all together.
Oils would have been more suited for this because I could have blended more, but I opted for acrylics so I could frame it right away and put it up for sale.
The final step was to add a couple of people on the sidewalk, something I had to re-do four times before they finally looked human. Sort of.
Last month I ordered a box of chunky little frames with 5″ openings. Here’s how this painting looks in a couple of them:
When I offer this on Boundless Gallery I’ll let the buyer choose the one they like.
DSFDF in the news:
In just a few short months, “Different Strokes From Different Folks” has already become quite a phenomenon! Check out page 83 of this month’s issue of Southwest Art magazine for a blurb about it. Kudos to Karin Jurick and all the artists who have made it so special.