From the top-
- Gnomon - oil on panel, 19"x28"
- (a detail closeup)
- Study for Gnomon - oil on linen, 8"x10"
- A side by side look at the larger piece with most of the underpainting showing and the study.
Working this way generally gives the best results, as it allows for a lot more of an innate understanding of the subject. That is, I painted it once, so it can only get better if I paint it again. A lot of passages are so familiar, though they are on a larger scale. Color choices have already been made in the study, so that's an easy thing to deal with. The palette was limited: raw umber (always!), ultramarine blue, cadmium orange, ivory black, titanium white, some indian yellow for effects in the seaweed, and a touch of viridian for the trees on the distant island. So it was mostly about pushing value and warm/cool as a point/counterpoint.
You'll notice in the study that the rock is more truncated than in the big piece. That's because I had to fit it into the panel, as the panel dimensions didn't really accommodate the shape that well. I rectified that in the large piece with some photo reference, to which I applied a grid for drawing purposes. Sorry I didn't get a photo of that aspect, but I referred to it only for the sake of the underpainting and layout. The contrast, values and colors of the photo were so unlike the study, that it was only useful for shapes and detail. Just shows that there is no substitute for painting from life.
I had a little bit of difficulty in the near foreground with the rocks and tidepools. I didn't want any of that to detract from the big rock, so I tried to shift the hue to a cooler state, as well as pattern the clinging seaweed (the most saturated color) to lead the eye up to the rock. It took some doing, but I think I achieved what I wanted. This may not seem like a virtuoso feat of painting in the grand scheme, but for me, this was one of my biggest efforts in a long time in terms of size and dedication.
Of course, it's way more fun to look at this in person. Come on by and visit me, and take a look!