Starting a new big painting

Starting this 125 x 160 cm stretched canvas. It’s going to be a painting of St. Agnes, the island I lived on this summer. Painting in this way, using memory and sketches and plein air studies is quite a new method in my practice. This painting feels like a warm up, an experiment.

I started with sketching onto the plain canvas in charcoal on the end of a long wooden stick:

I like the shapes, the curves, the abstract quality of this sketch.

This canvas is unprimed so the next thing I’m going to do is paint a layer of acrylic paint before starting in oil. I don’t really know what I’m doing! So I’m just starting.

Cool blue skies! Open blue skies giving way to the dark sky above.

In retrospect I made this too dark. I had forgotten acrylic paint gets darker as it dries. I wanted this bit of the painting to show open blue sunny skies, but instead it looks like it is at night.

More sky, purple blobs which could turn into cut-outs in the sky! I struggled with the colour the cloud should be, I made it this pinkish-grey-red colour? We’ll see about that.

Yellow shape! Based on the yellow shape in this drawing:

And this is where I’m up to now. The whole canvas is covered, ready for me to start oil painting on top. How am I feeling about this now? I’m excited to add shapes, planes (floating walls of semi transparent hues), strange shapes etc. Details! And colours and tings. The painting so far is limp, ultra defined, rigid. I’m excited to build on it. It’s been nice to do everything so far to make mistakes, think through making with low pressure.

I’m questioning whether the composition is quite right. With the dome going off the canvas. Would it be better for both sides of the dome to be included? And I think the edge of the cloud needs to come over more towards the top left corner.
It works that the focus is where the white dot is. The edges of forms seem to round and curve and beam towards that point. Which incidentally seems to follow the third composition rule vertically. And horizontally the canvas is divided into two halves. I think the edge of the cloud needs to also follow the vertical thirds rule.

Yep, now I just need to start painting, again!

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