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My process is mostly traditional with the frequent use of Photoshop to explore new compositional possibilities and verify compositional structures as the work proceeds. Here, I outline the broad steps of my process for painting "The Space Between" and show where, in the process, I use Photoshop.
In this work, I had a clear idea of the intention of the work so I didn't use Photoshop to explore the design. My process begins by establishing a toned background with one or more colours of the mood I want to establish. I then lay down in the major elements of the composition, in this case, two grain elevators between which the light will flow into the scene. To emphasize the perspective I add train tracks which will catch and reflect the light source.
Because I didn't have reference photos but rather a vision of what I wanted I use Photoshop to check various aspects of the work as I progess. At this point, I take a photo of the work and bring it into Photoshop. There I overlay a central grid and/or a golden mean grid to look for opportunities to place focal points of interest. In this case, I ascertain the position of the buildings with the Golden Mean (yellow) grid.
I then start painting the major elements with local colours, using dark colours in areas opposite the light source and lightening areas in the light source. At this point, I notice that the closest elevator is not wide enough compared to the furthest elevator and some of the roof angles are off, upsetting the perspective harmony.
Before going too far, I once again use Photoshop to check that my perspectives are correct. Since the colour scheme is hyper-real I want the other aspects of the work to be as real as possible. In this case, using two vanishing points I find the shoulders of the grain elevators are misaligned and the vertical lines of the closest building could be wider and angled a bit more to allude to its height.
I adjust the geometries of the buildings according to the observations in the previous slide by lowering the shoulders of the far side of the buildings and widening the closest building to give it more presence. I then bring up the light source and adjust the atmospheric impact of the light source. I also add details like the name on the near elevator to give a sense of place and the first set of railroad tracks.
I then add texture to the buildings, sky and foreground and knock back the light to fit the environment and time of day. I adjust the details previously added and add more details such as the load siding tracks. As the light is the focal point of the piece, I work further on the flow of light, flowing in between the elevators. The final version of this work can be seen here.
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