Friday, September 17, 2021



Too much working. Not enough blogging. But last week I found the time to paint a small canvas.


So far, my paintings are all based on photographs that I have taken over the past decade or so.  They deal with places that have caught my imagination: human settlements in different parts of the world.  The process of painting runs in parallel to digital work that I also share on this blog, with Revit as the primary tool for figuring things out.  But the interaction between digital and physical work runs a little deeper.  This small painting deals with Volterra, a fascinating town in Tuscanny that I visited in 2018 with a team of reality capture enthusiasts.



There are several posts from that period in my back catalogue.

Window into Tuscanny

 Just So Stories

 Tuscan Travel Tales

Painters often do preliminary studies or cartoons before attacking the final canvas.  I used two apps on my phone to develop my approach.  Pixlr and Sketchbook have been favourites of mine for long enough.  Rapid application of effects (in this case to dumb down the detail and focus my attention on the massing of the composition) … then sketching over with layers and transparency.  OK.  Now I have a somewhat abstract composition, an intention to add some vibrant colour from my imagination, and some interplay between the 2d plane of the canvas and the 3 dimensionality of the scene.  Good enough.



The second digital study was done in Revit, a drafting view.  Take the original photo. Overlay a grid with the same proportions as the canvas.  Add some detail lines and filled regions.  Now I have two images to guide me in the next stage.



Square up the canvas.  Then draft out the main lines of the composition with a soft graphite pencil.  I am not trying to represent the original scene faithfully.  I am using Volterra as an inspiration: a launching pad for my imagination.  I want to capture the liquid qualities of paint, the dream-like memories of that wonderful holiday, to balance the colours and shapes and rhythms.



There were several sessions of an hour or two each spread over 3 or 4 days.  I might go back and do a bit more.  Not quite happy with the results yet, although there is something very positive about the experience, and the new territory that I have strayed into.  The balance between free strokes with thick paint and the angular qualities of the buildings is not quite right.  There is a lot of freedom in the early blocking out which gave way to more carefully contrived interventions with a smaller brush.  It doesn’t quite mesh together.



“Practice makes perfect” and there are six paintings on my wall now. Growing in confidence with each new project. Learning to trust my instincts. Perfect may be the wrong word.  It’s just an expression.  The process of painting helps me to think about a place, and about my goals as I study “the way we build.”  It gives me a different point of view. 


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