Saturday, October 24, 2009

Process: Monkey and his acrylic paintings

So Monkey has recently come to terms that he does not like painting in the style of classical realism. While there are more musings on that on Monkey's personal blog, this post is about his process when coming up with one of his acrylic painting. So without further ado, take it away Monkey!

Hello! So, first off, I alway start up with some toned canvas or boards.
I like either strange colors (to give me a pre-existing color palette to work with), or a nice mid-tone gray. Working with a mid-tone gray is super helpful, as it allows you to see a better relationship between your darkest darks and your lightest lights. I find if you start with a blank, untoned canvas, I tend to paint my shadows too light, as I'm comparing them to the white of the canvas and not the local value of what I'm painting. More on toning canvas later.

Because so much of Monkey's work relies on the interplay between text and image, Monkey brainstorms a lot. Sometimes an idea will hit him while he's working his day job, and he'll jot it down on a sticky note and put it in his wallet for later use. Other times, when he has his paints ready, he'll start with an image and then use that as inspiration. In this instance, Monkey worked out a bunch of different concepts, and wrote them on an envelope as a guide for his painting session.
Because I hate wasting paint, a lot of times I'll tone some canvases with all my left-over paint that I have at the end of a painting session. I'll usually mix complementary colors to get rich mid-value browns to tone with, or, I'll go with analogous colors to get a nice rich background. If I do this, I'll usually save this canvas/board for a painting where the image will be the complement of the background. For example, if I paint a greenish background, I'll save the canvas for a painting that has orange-red hues for the majority of the painting.

Since I'm going to paint a barn, which has a lot of reddish-browns in it, I pulled out a greenish canvas I had been saving. I start by doing a quick sketch of the main contours of the image. This is mainly to get a sense of composition and scale of the piece.

Then, if I'm not doing a strong lighting statement, I'll mass in the local value. If I am working with strong lighting, I'll first mass in the shadows, then the lights, then I'll add the darkest shadows and the highlights last. Finally, I add the text. Notice that it's a bit different from the initial concept that's written down on the envelope. I wanted the barn to have a soul (as opposed to just being a "talking barn") as it adds some sort of moral implication to the barn's dialogue. Also, I wanted to make it a wee bit more obvious that Farmer Joe is getting nasty with someone/thing in the barn by using the text to really paint the picture in the viewer's mind about Farmer Joe's pants being on the floor.

And that's that. Thanks again for reading, and I hope it gives just a little bit of insight to my thought process when I'm painting. Maybe next time I'll do the process behind a more detailed piece, just for kicks.

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