Preparatory Drawings for “The Sentinel”. Drawn July 2022. Graphite on Paper
I’ve been planning a large painting that I want to complete in the next couple of months. This will be my largest painting to date – six feet tall and three feet wide. I plan to hang this painting at the end of the main hallway in the new house. The architect considers the walkway in front of the Art Studio that leads you to the front door and along the main hallway of the house to be the “spine” of building, so it needs a sizeable piece of art to be hung here. It will be the first thing you see as you come in the front door and if you look in the opposite direction you will see a Blue Spruce tree that we are planting just past where the walkway ends. The idea is that the painting and the Blue Spruce tree will act as visual bookends along this view corridor. Both the spruce tree and the painting will be well lit, so that the night effect will be even more pronounced.
My painting process always starts with one or more sketches. I usually start out with very general shapes and then focus in on a specific composition or subject matter. The three pictures above show that progression. This helps me get a handle on the overall proportions and I get a chance to resolve any structural problems before I even prime the canvas. I’ve been taking a lot of pictures of West Coast trees to use as references for this painting, so I considered a wide range of options, but eventually settled on a tall Douglas Fir Tree that is situated at the top of the bluff facing the ocean. The tree stands alone and has weathered many winter storms blowing up the Malaspina Strait, so it felt like a strong subject that deserved a painting. It also has the added benefit of a view over to Texada Island in the background.
Now that I’ve worked out the basic composition of the painting, my next challenge is to consider what style of painting will be the most appropriate for a painting of this size. This is the kind of challenge that I really enjoy.