Picturing It, Part One

March 30th, 2012

Allan Tetrault is a virtual friend, someone I know electronically, both from exchanging emails and from looking at his marvelous paintings.  He had the idea of taking us through the making of one picture, and I think you’ll be as fascinated by his process as I am.  The blogging software balked at a piece with ten images, so this installment continues in Part Two, as, I suppose, the words “Part Two” might suggest.

I started drawing when I was young, I’m not sure how old, maybe nine or ten. I liked to do cartoon characters from television shows. My first painting was done when I was a senior in high school, when I discovered the art department, quite by accident. I was unaware of its existence. I signed up for painting class in the last quarter of my last year of high school.

I can not make any claims to being a student of art history. I have never taken a class. My only formal training was six weeks of painting lessons at a local gallery in New Windsor, New York. I learned a lot in that short time.

My education and evolution as a painter came later, from learning from each painting how to do it better and with less struggle the next time. Each painting, even now, teaches me something new.

I thought I’d share with you the process in which I create a new painting.

I begin with a stroll through the streets, usually in the early morning when the sun is at a low angle. This low angle creates more dynamic colors and shadows.

This particular scene is from La Mariscal district of Quito, Ecuador.  I take pictures when I find interesting subject matter, then head back to see how things look after the download.

When I have a good photo, I print it close to the shape that I will use, so that when I need to do all of the fraction calculations to enlarge the picture I don’t have to hurt my brain too much.

It all starts with a detailed pencil sketch.

This is the foundation and must be correct. A sketch may take hours and hours. In this case it was about 5 hours of measuring and pencil work.

Next, fill in the primary color of the main object.

Add shadows.  The hues appear too dominant but they all fall into place at the end.

Adding more colors, filling in more spaces.

Starting to frame in the terrace windows.  Putting in the roof tiles.

Go on to Part Two.




6 Responses to “Picturing It, Part One”

  1. Suzanna Says:

    Enjoyed viewing the step by step process of your painting and learning how you like to work. Quito must be an inspiring place for you to paint. Thanks so much!

  2. michael hallinan Says:

    Hi Allan,
    Always informative to see how another painter works. I agree with the workman like process you employ; what’s more important is that it works for you. Draw accurately and paint loose; we are on the same page.
    Makes me want to go to Quito to paint. It seems like stepping back in time to a more graceful era before beautiful old buildings were torn down to make room for big box stores selling goods that we were better off without. I sound old even to myself. Anyway I’m looking forward to seeing more work and following your career.

  3. munyin Says:

    I just got 10 lottery tickets for MegaMillions this afternoon and if I win anything Suzanna and Michael and their loved ones can all go to Quito with Tim and me. I love looking at these wonderful stages of Allan’s painting and I love the joyful quality of primary colors the way you do them. Thank you for revealing your process.

  4. Allan Says:

    Quito is a wonderful city to visit but not all is beautiful of course. That’s the job of the artist. My friends who have lived in Quito all of their lives tell me, ” Through your eyes our city looks like a new place, vibrant and stunning”. So, as Tim can make all of Bangkok look like paradise,I do much the same with my paintings. It’s still a great place to visit, but like Manhattan after dark, one must not be foolishly innocent on the streets. Al

  5. michael hallinan Says:

    Hey Al,
    I’m still coming. I’ve been foolish all my life,although maybe not innocently. Just waiting for Munyin’s lottery check. I agree with you that our job is to find the beauty in the everyday.
    I,d like to see more of your work.

  6. munyin Says:

    Hey, Mikey: Didn’t win this time but it was so fun to fantasize that I think I don’t mind spending a couple of dollars each week, of course, with the intention of winning eventually. Hope it’s sooner than later or not at all and you’re definitely included in the bounty!

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