Sunday, December 01, 2019

Development of a Wedding Painting

When creating a painting, they usually seem to fall into either a "flow" or "fight" category.  By that, I mean that a painting seems to flow and develop easily, or else it wants to fight me from the very first day.  Last week, I completed a wedding painting that was definitely a fight.  Here's how it developed.  You can click on the images to see larger versions.

 This was how the painting looked at the end of the reception.  Pretty rough, huh? Most of my paintings are pretty rough at this stage.  I mean, here's a 24"x30" canvas that I've only been working on for maybe 2-3 hours, and much of that time is on trying to determine a basic composition.  This couple, two really wonderful people, wanted the painting to depict the return walk down the aisle.  One problem, for me, was that they didn't look at each other during that walk, and I wanted to show their interaction.  So I chose a good photo of them walking, then chopped off their heads and replaced them with heads from other photos.

 I developed the couple a bit and worked on the guests.  The guests were a real time sump: because of perspective, they were all different sizes, and getting them the right size ate up a lot of time.  The chairs, since they were all the same, had to be exactly the right size and position, or your eye would pick up on it immediately as something wrong.  Worst of all, the guests were all facing away, so you just saw the backs of heads.  And the parents and wedding party were partially hidden. 

 So I eliminated all the guests.  Two smoke bombs, left and right, and off they went.

 In place of the guests, I blocked in the floor and changed the position of the parents.  This composition simplified things greatly, putting more attention on the couple and allowing development of all the important people.  Now we're cooking. 

More development of the important people.  The floor was brick in a herringbone pattern, which had to be done well enough that the eye would read "brick floor", but not over-developed and pulling attention to itself.  The lines are guides to get the perspective right.  Since they're only guides, they'll soon go away.

 The brick floor was developed a bit, just enough to indicate the color and texture.  The hanging curtains along the top of the canvas bothered me because they were just a dark gray shape going straight across the image.  It needed to be broken up, so I added a couple of hanging lamps.  The foreground looked a little too empty.  There were a couple of decorations, with candles, flowers, and fabric, that were actually next to the curtain in back, so I wondered how they might look if they were in front. 

The decorations in front seemed to work pretty well.  Now we're starting to do the finishing touches.  I added a couple of hanging drapes in back, the same color as the center curtains, just to bring the color out in to a gray area.  Red, pink, and white flower petals were spread around the floor.  And I went around the whole painting, bringing everything up a notch or two.  I sent this image off to the clients for approval.

The clients loved the painting but requested a few changes.  One was to add the two flower girls.  I put them on the right, interacting with each other.  Another was to have some kind of art deco element, so I changed the yellow curtains to a more prominent shape with art deco design on it.  Then I went around the painting one more time, adding flower petals to make them more random, touching up the couple and others, touching up the decorations in front, and generally bringing things up to where they should be.  And we're done!

So that's how this particular painting worked out.  It was a struggle, but it got there.  By now, I know that I can get these paintings across the finish line, no matter how much trouble they give me.  And I know that if it's really not working, I can always grab a new canvas and start from scratch.  Yes, I've done that, and it turned out pretty well.  On the other hand, some paintings develop quickly and naturally.  But those paintings wouldn't make a good blog post, now, would they?