Making a painting is an undertaking. Paint is expensive. It takes a while to mix. Then you have to actually paint with it. Then you need to led it dry for nearly a week before you can fix it. Sometimes it takes me months to complete a painting. I've tried and failed multiple times trying to squeeze oil painting in on a daily basis due to the amount of set up and clean up. I have been starting to find ways to be both efficient with my time and fitting in more hours throughout the week so I can spend the weekend painting for hours on end. Part of this work includes doing upfront sketching in order to understand the composition and the color palette I want to use before I even get to the canvas.
This is a painting of a water tower I captured in Gary, South Dakota. I always loved this photo and have wanted to do a painting on it. I also thought this would be a great second painting for a series I'm working on dedicated to the Great Plains and my experience visiting it as a child. Technically, this project started when I captured the photo in 2015 with my Canon EOS Rebel T5. I then decided to test out doing a mini watercolor of the tower in the dimensions of a canvas I already bought. I have liked playing with unexpected dimensions and more vertical compositions in the past and knew the canvas I already had would be perfect for this. I also knew I wanted a color palette that was primarily blue, which was also unexpected for me.
I then started began back in January and ended up doing three or four rounds of painting until I got to what I wanted in the end. A lot of the challenge was deciding if I wanted it to look hyper-realistic (not my style) or more Abstract Expressionist (more my jam). I think I settled somewhere in the middle. I also wanted a way to capture to glow the tower seemed to have against the winter sky, which was a bit of a challenge. I ended up redoing the water tower completely, which then made it feel flat and had to be done again. I also originally had an amazing gradient for the winter sky, but it ended up also having to be redone a few times.
Overall, I'm happy to finally call it complete. I remember one of my art professors always saying that as the artist, you know when you're painting is done. I've had instances where my first round of a painting was great and I didn't feel a need to tweak further, or I liked it but felt I needed to fix it, and then lost what I originally had. The lesson I learned from this one painting is to go with my gut and use upfront sketching work ahead of time to nail the idea before I pick up a paintbrush. It's less about finishing it and more about being satisfied.