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rocking chairs progressive

I always enjoy seeing how another artist creates a painting. Even though I have painted for decades myself, I still get excited about the mystery involved in the creation of an original work of art with just canvas and paint. So, I thought I would share with you the progressive pictures of an piece I am starting.

Using a photo I took in Tampa recently, I am beginning a 16 by 12 inch painting on canvas of two rocking chairs on a wooden porch.

The original photo:

rocking chairs photo


There are many ways in which I might start a work, depending on the subject and complexity of the composition. In this case, I have several reference photos to show me the shape of the chairs and the fall of the shadows, but the perspectives have been warped by the camera. This is a complex design to paint, so I began with a tight pencil sketch to correct the perspective lines.

rocking chairs sketch


Then, I began blocking in the first layer of colors. I usually start with the background, working towards the foreground and finish with the main subjects, in this case the chairs. I have found this the easiest way to work, in order to get sharp edges in the primary subjects. At this point, I am just trying to cover the areas well by scrubbing some basic tones into the texture of the canvas.

rocking chair one


By the end of the next day, the entire canvas was covered, giving me the basic colors and tones to actually start the final painting. Because I want the chairs to capture the most attention, I then deepened the distant background and muted the color of the wall on the right side:

rocking chairs two


The third day was spent changing tones that bothered me, such as adding a warmer color into the porch floor and the shadows upon it. All the horizontal lines behind the chairs bothered me, so the foliage shadow design was extended across the porch. I like that better. The chair details were also cleaned up. Yes, I did actually paint the entire picture twice by this time. I heard somewhere that you are not really painting until you are pushing paint into paint. That's probably true. This stage of the work is always the most fun for me. It's where the magic happens:

rockng chairs three


Close-up of the chairs:

chairs closeup

The painting will dry for a week or so, then I will look at it again with fresh eyes and probably make a few more changes. I hope you enjoyed seeing how this painting was created.