The painting and the study

Green Pail
40 x 30

Green Pail Study
10 x 8
 The reference for these paintings was an unpromising photo in which the child was far from me and blurry.  The day was overcast and, other than the gesture, there was nothing that interested me.  But I did really like the gesture, so I did a couple of thumbnails and this small colour study to see if I could make anything of it.

When I enlarged the boy on my screen, I found a few clues about colour: there was a suggestion of blue sky reflecting in the top of his chest.  That became my anchor.  Next, I had to decide if I was going to use a cool light and warmer shadows or the reverse.  So that the blue chest would stand out, I chose to paint his body in warm greenish ochres and make the highlights generally cool (ish).  These divisions aren't cut and dried and you'll see a lot of cool in the torso and warms in the highlights, but you have to start somewhere and that was my thinking process at that moment.

I also wanted to avoid a sense of specificity.  The boy is meant to be just "Boy", not an individual; he is the movement and the moment.  So, even on the large piece, I just indicated his facial structure, trying variations on minimal marks until I felt that the viewer would be able to imagine the placement of his eyes and nose.

Looking at the two paintings, I see that I've changed his movement from swift to slow.  In the large painting, the child is picking his way along in knee-deep surf, examining the water around his feet for interesting finds, while the study shows him dashing forward leaving a froth of water in his wake.  I enjoy the different moods and sensations that these gestures evoke: one contemplative and the other dynamic.  

I'll be posting more beach scenes soon as they seem to be what my brush wants to do these days.

Happy painting!