Sunday, March 29, 2015

Evolution of an Image- Barcelona Corridor

I'd been doing a lot of nature scenes lately, so I decided to get back to some geometry and try painting this scene from Barcelona!  :)  Who can't love those bold shadows?  I like sharing the original pic when I can, because I think it shows how the composition has had to go through some sort of alchemy in my mind, before it comes out a "painting."  I'm definitely not aiming for a literal translation-- otherwise, I'd just keep the pic!  I'm pushing to capture that mood (and have fun while doing it...).

I went through 2 preliminary paintings on 1/4 sheet (11 x 15).  Here's the first pencil sketch--

I drop my first wash in, and spit a little on it for texture.  The truth is that most of this will get covered later-- I'm just figuring out what my lightest lights will be, putting in a background color, preserving whites.  It's almost like I'm leaving notes for myself for the next few stages.

Start to lay in darker bits, and carve out some light.

This is the end of the first sketch.  The truth is that the archway was much lighter on this on my first go, but I then did my second iteration, which had much darker shadows.  I liked the "pop" it provided, so I went back into this one and darkened my darks.  The image notably improved.  That process of learning something on a second try and then doing a little touch up on an earlier version is something that happens now and then.

This is the 2nd painting- also on a quarter sheet.  Done the same day.  The darks were much darker from the get go, which was good.  I also put more variety into the shadows, and let them blend more into a block.

This is the end of the 2nd painting.  I had to go back in with some white on the lamp, as I lost my whites.  It was better, but a bit too "graphic" for me with the shadows.  I wanted more delineation of the form. 

This is the final piece, which I did a few weeks later.  This one is on a 1/2 sheet. (22 x 15).  I made the figure bigger and more chromatic, and later on, I added the lamp hanging from the arch in the foreground (there was an object hanging in the pic, but it wasn't a lamp), to help pull your eye around into different locations (figure up to lamp, down the slanting shadow, back up the shadow on the wall to the figure along the line of the street).  As the painting grew in size, it also began to call for a bit more detail in the central area.  So, I added the motorcyle and the wires, a bit more on the church window, etc.  That sort of stuff.  I lost a bit of the lights in the foreground that I would have liked, but all in all, I'm pretty happy with it.  It's very Barcelona!  :)


  1. Interesting to see the process, thanks for sharing. One constructive comment ( I hope )
    The finale picture, the street or pavement or whatever it is. I find that in the 2nd picture, ( the image photographed with a yellow grid background ) the wall on the right, and the box next to the entrance, are better connected with the street.
    In the finale picrture, the wall seems to be floating because of the (too) light, and clean, street surface, especially because the shadow on the wall is much darker than the street.
    I think this corner would have been a perfect part of the painting to go dark and very vague, like Castagnet often does.
    Apart from that, I find the values very good.


  2. Hi Anonymous,
    Thank you for a legitimate and real critique. :)

    The ground plane is hard for me on images like this. The truth is that the cast shadow from the building on the left goes straight across the street and lands on the building on the right-- the value of the road is pretty consistent... Although I see now (looking at the onsite photo in the post above) that the archway actually casts a shadow, and the foreground should clearly be darker. Perhaps this is exactly in the area you are pointing out (where the box juts out from the wall).

    The real issue is, I think, that the values vary too much. Which is what I think you're really pointing out. Either the walls should be a bit paler, or the street a bit darker. The issue I have with the 2nd painting (the one of the striped background) is that the shadows on the street is not separate enough from the wall in terms of value. Perhaps there's some sort of middle ground???

    I may paint the image again in time. I like that process, and often learn a lot by revisiting something.

    Thanks much for commenting so thoughtfully.! :)

    1. I paint several versions of my images as well, a good way to learn I think.
      After re- studying the image I see a confusint are in the real photograph:
      The fence like looking shadown that goes near the ground from the box towards the viewer, is quite dark compared to the streetsurface right underneath, which; logically, should have the same shadow... But the street surface there is very light, for soem strange ( light bouncing) reason.
      Goes to show that even reality does not always look real..
      Still think that this corner, the right lower corner area, would be good to do a very dark and vague Alvaroa area.