The figure was carefully sketched out straight from the computer screen. I often work out a composition and add features in this way. In this case the umbrella was extracted from another image and added to the lady. I usually start with the figure but in this case put the base coat of the background first in order to define the umbrella which will be white.
The umbrella was given some form and the first stage of the body tones added.
The base coat of the dress and bag were put in to show the outline of the working area. The hair is put in to show it's position but will need "working at a later stage.
It is around this stage of a painting that it looks awful and one is tempted to ditch it. I am usually able to resist the urge and continue.
Next was the task of starting to add layers and build up the flesh tones on the body, and establish the tones. The hair has been removed to leave only the impression and give it "body".
The dress is built up whilst trying to resist the temptation to include too much detail. At this stage the figure has the look of a cutout which has been added onto a separate background. It is essential to rectify that in the later stages.
There are many subtle changes between this image and the one before. The figure has been anchored to the floor through the insertion of reflections and an horizon. The background has been strengthened by working down the image and creating lost edges on the body, umbrella and dress which help to merge it into the background in places and get rid of that "cutout" look.
These pictures show the development of a painting from start to finish. The example used is "The Delivery" which can be seen in the The Gallery.
The reference photographs were taken in the summer of 2010 in Frigiliana, Andalucia.
The Drawing. Quite some time is spent getting the drawing correct. This is done on fine grain, smooth paper with HB and 2B pencils. The lines can be usually be removed after the painting is finished if they are not wanted.
The initial washes. The first washes are put onto the drawing. This is done very quickly, no more than two minutes. The initial washes form an undercoat on which to build up the colours.
Contrasts. Choosing and putting in a dark area of the painting is useful at this stage to give an idea of the range of tones. It can be altered later if necessary.
Adding details. The plant, the Signs and the balcony are worked on.
The plants. The foreground plants were developed using various greens and yellows.
The plant details. Working on the rest of the plants and the first layers of the crate colours.
The final details. The final details are so important to the painting. The walls are treated with subtle ashes of colour. The highlights on the door are removed from the blue paint using a small brush and clean water. The cobbled surface to the steps is put in with just enough information rather than trying to re-produce each stone. The crates and bottles are only suggested rather than detailed.