24”x 48” | oil on canvas | available
© 2010 David McCamant. All rights reserved. No license implied or granted.
My process for painting is fairly straightforward.
I take a lot of images of the clouds around the Sierra Nevada range. These are the basis for my cloudscapes. Every painting begins with a series of pencil thumbnail sketches to decide on the composition and general value range.
Then I make a color study in oil or pastel using the chosen composition and decide on the final canvas size.
From there I start the actual painting by tinting the canvas to a neutral gray (warm or cool). By tinting the ground (canvas) you are not dealing with the bright white of the canvas. I also use a neutral gray palette of about 40%. These two things will help you see your values much easier and not fight the stark white. If you use a white canvas and a white palette your initial colors will likely be too light because the correct value will look too dark surrounded by stark white. Ever wonder why your color looks washed out after you cover the canvas; this is the reason.
Now to mix all the colors for the painting in what I call 'color runs'. This is where you start with your darkest value color such as in the shadow of the clouds. You continue mixing from that color to the next lighter one using the same brush. Most of the time I don't even wipe my brush off between colors. Once that color is mixed, I move on to the next and so on until I reach the lightest hue in the subject. These colors are actually touching in the run. I’ll end up with several runs, one for each area of the painting.
A note about how much paint to mix; think real estate. You’ll need the same area or puddle of paint on your palette as you are covering on the canvas. If you have a small palette you will need to make a large puddle then scoop it into a mound. It is always easier to paint with enough paint to work with so mix more than you need. Good painters don’t scrimp on paint!
Once I have all my color ready, I transfer my composition by eye with a very thin stain of my darkest color; very much like a sketch. I use Gamblin’s Neo Megilp medium for all my work. It gives tremendous workability to the paint.
Then I block in the large shapes painting with a big brush. Starting with my darkest darks and working quickly to the midtones I finish the block. The block is just covering the canvas with color and large rough shapes not getting into your lighter passages. I do not use any solvents to clean my brushes I only wipe them with blue shop towels between strokes or color changes. Remember you are painting not drawing. An artist brush is more like a shovel than a pencil. You pick up color make a stroke or two and you’re out of paint. So you then pick up more.
Once the block is complete I work on my center of interest or my central subject. Many times for clouds you’ll need to have the sky mostly done to get the edges right. I don’t use blending brushes or such nonsense. All of my current paintings are done with Connoisseur 2106 fliberts.
To finish, think about using a concept as your primary subject. For instance a painting might be a cloudscape but the artistic concept would be something like; a warmly lit central subject surrounded by mystery. When you have the painting where you have fulfilled the concept…you’re done!
All the Best, David