Here is a painting I completed a while ago entitled 'Travelling Man'. 21 x 13.5 inches, using Daniel Smith watercolours on Arches Aquarelle paper. Each of the stages below represents one session of work per day, which gives an indication of the time spent.
This was based on an excellent, very moody, black and white photograph taken by my photographer friend David Morley who kindly granted permission for me to use his work for reference. I had intended to create a charcoal drawing but liked the scene so much that I decided to add colours of my own choosing to see what happened.
After spending quite a while on a simple line drawing, I began with the wall details. I used a light, watery wash of Buff Titanium mixed with Bronzite Genuine as a base coat, then fed in some reds and blues while wet to warm it up before glazing over again with a little gold. Once the wall was dry, I picked out the bricks with dark colours and a very fine brush. For the plant above the subject's head I went in with strong mixes of blues and greens, feeding in reds and browns, allowing the paint to granulate as it dried but preserving some white paper for the blooms. I painted them in using rose madder, pink and Amethyst Genuine. Final twigs and tendrils were added after everything was dry. Fairly straight forward so far but at this stage I wasn't sure how I was going to handle the smoke from the guy's fag which I planned to be a feature of this scene. I left the smoke area as white paper and faded the paint out as I reached it from top and bottom, scrubbing out the edges with an old stiff brush and clean water to give the initial misty effect. The metal cases were painted using one of my favourite colours for metal, Blue Apatite which granulates beautifully. While wet I added some Paynes Grey for the darks and fed in a bit of Permanent Brown to 'age' them a little.
Next came the far background. By this stage of the painting I already have quite a full palette of colours ready and mixed so I tend to dip into them all and let them blend on the paper. I used strong, dark colours and threw in some salt granules to aid the granulation effects, leaving it fairly abstract. I worked on the area around the smoke quite hard, allowing the colours to fade out at the edges, rinsing and lifting out with clean water until I achieved the misty effect I wanted.
I continued with the packing cases etc. and put in some of the lovely shadows, especially on the bricks which instantly brought the painting to life, using shadow Violet in flat washes. I've utilised pretty much the same colours throughout at varying strengths so that it appears to be a limited palette and ties together well, even though it is a busy composition with many colours mixed in.
At this point I felt the need to ground everything and also add more detail to the middle background without allowing things to look too overworked. I paid some more attention to that darned smoke, adding some dilute white gouache to give it a bit more body and painted a few rogue tendrils for the impression of movement.
With most of the surrounding painting complete I started on the character himself, choosing the complimentary Amethyst Genuine to colour the inside of the guitar case. This is another paint which granulates really well to produce the velvety effect. A little shadow violet picked out the details.
I picked up the same amethyst colour for his jacket mixed with a little Paynes Grey to tone it down slightly. I didn't want to overpower the painting by being too bright, so stuck to grey tones. The mixture I used lifts out really well with clean water so I used this method to create the creases and folds in the fabric. Then I finished the rest of his clothing.
Finally I went over the whole thing, refining it and adding a few extra details. This turned out to be one of my favourite paintings but sold quite quickly. I was sorry to see it go.