Where do I Begin?

When teaching, I am often asked, “Where should I start my painting?”

The reality is, I have no formula. Every new painting is a puzzle to be worked out. Sometimes I embrace the strategy of working light to dark. Other times I like to flush in some of the darkest darks early on so I can imagine the full range even while there is still a lot of white paper still showing.

In Hawaii, we have a manifesto: BEGIN ANYWHERE!

If I had to paint the same way every time, it would get boring. But that said, there is a method. I would describe it as building up paint to the right value, while being careful to allowing playfulness and freshness (mistakes) to happen.

The painting, CONNECTIONS, is in the Western Federation Watercolor Society show that opens this weekend at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum in Eugene.

If you want to see where I begin, watch this time lapse of me painting it.

I’ve painted a portrait of myself at Epic Island in British Columbia three times, each one quite different.

First, a play with color…

Then texture…

I’ve recently finished this more realistic version, rendered during four portrait classes that I taught in my home classroom. Yes, the style is less playful but still the piece feels lively. My focus was on making hard and soft edges.

Here are 4 images — one after each class — showing the painting in progress.  Notice I didn’t develop the eyes until later in the process. Once the eyes go in, the image starts to feel real. It’s easier for me get started — less pressure — without eyes.

New Portrait Class DATES for Summer & Fall…