This year I'm wanting to make the leap to larger paintings. I've done a few over the past couple years but I'd like to work larger more often. I've been thinking about how to break them down into daily chunks and this post looks at some of the things I've tried.
I think the typical approach is to work the painting in layers: one day sketching out the composition, one day for the underpainting, and then another layer each day until completion. That's the way I worked yesterday. I still have several layers to go. I think this works well for paintings that evolve over time. I know I want this painting to be the flowers of life but I don't know exactly what I want it to look like. I'll keep layering and hopefully I'll know when to stop.
About six months into my first year of creative habits in 2014, I did this black and white painting below. It came from my study of Basquiat and for this one I just added a few drawings to the panel each day, fitting them together like a puzzle. It went pretty quickly because I used tracing paper to transfer the drawings from my sketchbooks to the panel. That made fitting them tightly together easier.
I did another one a few months later in pretty much the same way. This time I alternated between adding drawings and layering color.
Last year after studying Chuck Close I started using a grid. That worked well for this paint-by number-style painting because I had the painting planned out in photoshop first. It was just a matter of transferring to the panel and painting it in. I painted a square or two each day.
For my next large painting I used a grid but this time it was there just to help me keep my shapes straight and to help with my composition. I didn't have this one planned out. I painted one large agate or a couple small ones each day until it was filled up.
I used a grid again on this one. It seems to work well for me because I can focus on a small section each day and then take a day every once in awhile to address the painting as a whole.
Another approach is to pencil in the subject and then paint each shape or section. This is another good method for when I have a general idea for the painting but I want to let it change and develop over time.
These paintings are 18x18 or 24x24 inches so they really aren't all that large but still larger than I have the time to complete in one day. I'm realizing it IS possible to break large works down into manageable, daily chunks though I may have to put the sketchbook aside as I don't always have time to do both a sketchbook drawing and a painting chunk.