Windows on a Time: The Birth of a Painting

This is the painting I'm working on at the moment. It has featured on some of my Blogs and posts on Facebook and Twitter. Here is its story.
I have been thinking about doing a series on looking through windows, doors, arches back to the past. Consequently I have taken many photos when on my travels that illustrate this concept. So as an artist I usually start with an idea in my mind and go looking for some images in the world around me to help form the composition of a painting. Of course sometimes I start around the other way from a scene I have photographed.

Here is the photo that helped me form the idea for "Windows on a Time". Of course I was attracted to the bricks! The photo was taken at Silverton an old mining town a little distance from Broken Hill.

Stage One
Time to draw up the rough composition of the painting. I wanted to show an old wooden town as it might have looked in the mid 1800s.

Stage Two
Then the job was to put in some detail. I was determined to keep a limited palette which is hard for me. If you have looked at any of my other paintings you will see how much I love colour. I chose to use only raw umber and titanium white. Thought a wooden walkway would look good also. None of this has been researched. It's all in my imagination and in no way is meant to represent a particular old town. Bit worried it's beginning to look like the wild west!!

Stage Three
So the buildings in the little town started to take shape and I was careful to make sure they looked just right. Getting the composition of a painting just right is very hard to teach. Somehow you just know if it's wrong. All I can advise is to look at lots of paintings, especially those done by famous artists, and you eventually get a "feel" for what is right. Great thing about painting is that you can always paint something out!

Stage Four
At first there were to be no people. Just the old wooden town and the stark ruin of the building in the foreground. But then I decided it would be fun to tell a story of what was going on in the town. To make it come alive. So I started to put in some characters but done in a way that they will blend into the buildings.

Stage Five
Now I'm starting to play around with the colour of the red earth which covers a great deal of the painting. And of course the ruin of the wall. Watch for the next update.

Playing around with the red earth. Also getting ready to indulge myself in painting some bricks. You can see the lines going in around the doorway. Bricks from the wall remains are also starting to appear scattered in the dirt. Colours are predominantly yellow ochre, naples yellow, white, dash of cad orange and windsor orange. and of course raw umber and burnt umber for shading. Must take control of this shotgun approach and do some serious research into the colour I want. The "Wild West" is still there in the background!

Stage Six
Spot the difference? Well the old town has now got a sepia wash. There are a few red bricks appearing around the doorway. you can see where I have roughly sketched in some more brickwork above the door. The left hand wall is taking on a little more shape. And some shadows are appearing. There are two new figures. See if you can find them.

Stage Seven
Drifts of sand are appearing in the ruins. Bricks are taking shape. I really love painting them but really don't know why.They give a certain order to a painting and a texture. I've been told today that this painting is very sad. Funny but I don't see it like this. I find a real fascination in ruins as they tell the story of the past.

Stage Eight
For those of you who are following the birth of my painting Windows on a Time, here is the latest update. See if you can spot the changes.

Stage Nine
If you look carefully you will see that the people are now properly clothed! And I have introduced a little more colour to their clothing to make them stand out. The bricks in the red sand are almost finished though the highlights on the sand remain to be done. I'm just trying to decide whether to include some saltbush or not. It looks so barren but I don't want to make the painting any busier. Busy paintings are my failings! There are two dogs. Can you find them?

Stage Nine- People Details
Here are some close ups of the people in the town behind the ruin of the wall.

Stage Ten - Nearing completion I know the changes are subtle but this is what happens when you get to the final stages of creating a painting. You fiddle, fiddle, fiddle trying to make it just that little bit better. I'm happy with the composition. I've finalised the colour of the sky and I think it is looking fine. Trying to get a touch more light on the wooden buildings without letting them dominate. I think the sand and bricks are looking okay. I've darkened the old brick wall but will still add a few more highlights. Trying to finish it this week.
Stage Eleven - Finished The painting has been posted in the Latest gallery where you can read the specifications.

Anne Newman

Oil Painter in realistic genre style, predominantly buildings and people. To continue the discussion contact Anne on or phone +61 407 516 522

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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