A Painting in Progress

I’m not sure where paintings come from.  There’s the uncertainty of the blank page followed by the work and then getting to know the thing.  But what’s brought to that page?   What’s happens before the thought of the next painting?  I feel it’s momentum which in my experience is a mixture of things: my appreciation of other art history, my sense of design and composition, my desire to make paintings and my need to express both my connection with the world as I see it and the world as I imagine it.

There are two main streams running throughout all of my painting, a naturalistic stream and a subjective stream.  My naturalistic paintings look a lot like how things appear to me.  My subjective paintings are based more upon my imagination and personal vision. I want to show you my most recent work titled “Sheds Along the Sea” and show how my progress through the work.

I started with a pencil sketch.  I haven’t painted anything coastal in a while and I started to feel a sense of longing to do a piece in that genre.  I was looking at a Cezanne painting (reproduction!) the other day and really felt a connection to his composition with his efforts to simplify compositional elements into geometric shapes.   I believe this is a key to his classicism.  His paintings just look so together with only the kind of “there-ness” Cezanne could impart.  I couldn’t help but reinterpret his skewed buildings as a starting point for my own painting.

Paul Cezanne “House and Farm at Jas de Bouffan”

1. Sheds Along the Sea – sketch

Once I started drawing, I could tell this was not going to be a naturalistic painting.  I wasn’t so concerned with the details, but more the main shapes and elements of style.  Once I arrived at this sketch, I made a transparency of the drawing and projected it on the wall.  I liked how it looked on a 30” x 40” scale so I got out a canvas that size and transferred my drawing to the canvas surface using black acrylic ink as a marking device.

Sheds Along the Sea – blocking in

Using oil paint, I began to block in the large shapes of the piece.  If you’ve ever seen the film “Standing in the Shadow of Motown” you saw how their songs were built upon a baseline, one instrument added at a time.  Painting is sometimes like that.  You can build upon a drawing in the same way.

3. Sheds Along the Sea – more blocking in

4. Sheds Along the Sea – finding light

I’m just starting to indicate a light source and I’m working to follow a kind of space I like which appears to recede and be flat at the same time.  I like to make the illusion of space flatten out like the space in Japanese and Chinese paintings.

5. Sheds Along the Sea – adjusting color

6. Sheds Along the Sea – a cut-out space

7. Sheds Along the Sea

At this point the painting begins to feel finished to me.  There are a couple of areas I may go back to once the paint dries, but generally I feel like this one is complete.  Looking back, I was attempting to depict a feeling of dreaminess, a kind of floating quality within the piece with the exaggerated shadows and the invention of details.  Maybe this is a children’s painting.  If you’re interested in this original painting, please go to my storefront to purchase or contact me through this link.

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4 Responses to A Painting in Progress

  1. Jeanne Lawson says:

    Hi Paul,

    Wow! I love seeing how you develop your painting. We are still enjoying the four paintings I bought from you. I especially like the red boat. I am glad you have jumped into the web with both feet and I hope it brings you all the financial success your fine work deserves.

    Best wishes,

    Jeanne Lawson

  2. Kerry Golemon Schwartz says:

    Dear Paul,

    I really appreciate seeing this process, and hope you will share more about how you make your work. For example, how does the process of composition occur when you combine what you see and what you imagine or put in from other scenes? Do you always use a projector for large work? These “tutorials” with the little details like using transparencies and acrylic ink under oils, etc., are neat!

    Thanks, I love your work, Kerry

  3. Eileen Kay says:

    Beautiful and congrats! Thanks for sharing – I hope you sell some!! Is it hard parting with a piece? My favorites are the wind and the cove, I think. I hope I get to see them in person sometime…

  4. Paul Hannon says:

    Hello Eileen,

    Thanks for you message! I hope you can see them too some time. Hey, if you’re ever in the neighborhood, Mi casa su casa, but you know that!

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