I often get asked how I work, or if I work digitally or traditionally. I work traditionally, not on a computer, I enjoy the craft of the painting process, actually using a brush I can hold and a paint that is tangible. The fact there is no “undo” or magic revert to the process. It’s still an art, not an image of art. When I’m done, I have an actual painting.
I use pencil on prepared masonite panels, with acrylic paint, and then oils. I’d say the acrylic to oil ratio is probably 20% acrylic and 80% oils. I use the acrylics for the quick drying time and for block-in areas.
So I get my assignment which is to paint Jesus meeting Zacchaeus. I look at all the available art that has been done over the years to portray this event. Some show the perspective of high in the tree over Zacchaeus’ shoulder, which confuses me a bit, as it places the viewer higher in the tree than Zacchaeus. As I wonder how I can paint this picture that hasn’t been seen a dozen times I notice a lot of the pictures look like middle of the day scenery, with blue skies. I get an idea. If I can’t do something completely different with a scene that is familiar throughout all of Sunday School-dom, I’ll just make it a “perdy picture”. I thought it might be nice to make the sky brilliant sunset, since it might be getting close to the evening meal.
After I have worked out my composition through thumbnail sketches, I block in the drawing directly on the painting surface. As far as photo reference, I will shoot photo reference, look in a mirror for hand poses, etc., it’s pulling ingredients for my own art soup, so to speak.
After I have the focal point of the painting, which is Jesus, I draw in the structure of the tree, without leaves (I paint those later). Here I start to achieve some depth to the drawing by showing some stones around a raised bed that might wind through the city. I make sure to leave plenty of open area around the figure of Jesus, this will allow Him to easily be the focal point from a distance.
Using a combo of drawing from references of friends and family, and drawing out of my imagination, I work in the crowd and buildings.