Yes... this opening line from this iconic and beloved piece of Christmas music correlates the onslaught of chaotic human activity with the "winter wonderland" landscape which lies out our window this morning. The give-or-take ten to twelve inches of freshly fallen snow merely adds icing to the Christmas cake. The hectic mall traffic yesterday further deepened the growing anxiety that prep time for Santa's annual visit was rapidly coming down to the wire. Thankfully for us... that shopping sortie out into the mall madness completed our gifting. No future rush or hype will be necessary. Just the wrapping... shipping or delivery of our gifts.
On the annual pre-Christmas commission front... I am at the lay in stage of the third commission of those promised to be completed prior to the New Year. I will likely be able to complete this one fully by the week's end... if nothing breaks the rhythm of my current pace and schedule. I have two larger ones remaining, but those will not be begun... until after the Christmas turkey has made his "guest" appearance at our table. Time to relax and enjoy the break with family and friends!
It seems a bit strange to be painting fall colours today... given the "blank white canvas" that this morning blankets our quaint village... all overnight. There is a sense of great warmth and comfort though... in being able to work under the warmth of the studio lighting at my easel during the day... and to retire for the late afternoon to play our daily Scrabble match in our kitchen... a warm fire a-cracklin' and burning bright in our fireplace hearth. We both... are deeply blessed!
Here are some images to offer you insight into my commission progress as of yesterday evening. I will add more as the painting takes shape further. Nothing startlingly different about my approach being taken. I am working from a number of digital photo references.... not my favourite strategy. Careful rendering and observation to eliminate errors in basic structural forms details... angles and compositional decisions is the first order of business.
Here a fairly clean line/contour drawing to establish placement of compositional elements is shown drawn on to the 24x30 inch canvas toned with my usual choice of ground.. acrylic burnt sienna. I encountered considerable difficulty achieving the proper proportion of the house in the picture plain... going from the 8x10 inch photo to the larger canvas format. On some days... and with some subjects... this inexplicably occurs????
I overcame this barrier by developing a simple grid using vine char coal that divided the canvas equally vertically and horizontally... and then diagonally through the centre... to create points of reference to guide my drawing more accurately. This helped immensely.
A bit of shading is added to provide some darks to "couch" the house... then lights out for the night.
First colour added to the subject without concern for correctness of value.
I ended the second day by quickly washing in the ground, sky and tree elements roughly in colour. At this point... I have clearly established the intended path of light through the picture plane from high left to right. The main thing achieved with this rapid intervention... is that most of the distracting rustiness of the ground has been covered, leaving a clearer understanding and direction for the painting and my thinking to proceed.
I spent my morning coffee hour... just sipping and dreaming about the finished appearance:
"With visions of sugar plums.. dancing in my head"! HA HA!!
Ready to get at it... after the shovelling and bird feeding! They're calling aloud frantically... and I can't resist getting out there to reward them for the constant joy they bring Deb and I on each and every single morning! We... are deeply blessed!
Stay tuned... more action coming your way!
Good Painting ... to ALL!
Day#4 - Friday, December 12th
Spent most of the day simply "frigging around". In my own terminology... this is a tedious process of many checks n' balances between digital reference views and the canvas... measuring and remeasuring... adjusting colour in small areas. However, this is an important part of commission work because you are responsible to the eye and tastes of the client as well... and most often... they are particularly "sensitive" in respect to "artistic licence". It is after all... their castle!
By day's end, I feel that I have sailed through these uncertain and troubling waters. Tomorrow will be the day when I work more freely and broadly to tie in the landscape, foliage and tree elements to reduce the feeling of formality created by the the architectural. I now feel free to inject a more impressionistic flair into the painting.
At this early stage of the "friggin' around"... my focus was on the white framed in porch... discerning parts and angles... roof line and shadows. Some shrubbery was introduced to couch the porch into the ground.
The afternoon was spent the facade entirely. I worked up better colour and texture on the brick face and coined corners... and finally dealt withe window and elaborate classical entrance doorway and fan-shaped window elements. I completed the window frame on the frame addition... added the pathway and some of the foliage in the upper right to get the feel for further treatment tomorrow. By supper time... I called an end to the "friggin" process. Bring on the BIG brushes... and glazing. I'm ready to rock n' roll my way through to an end on the weekend!