My students are always curious about how I work a painting - from beginning to end.  I thought others might be interested in this progression, as well.  This is going to be a long blog so it make take a few weeks.  I will illustrate with text and images the progression of the last painting I created.  

THE IDEA.   How do I decide what to paint; what do I look for in subject matter?   I look for things that show structure or strong three-dimensional quality.  I look for subject matter that is very spacial, including a foreground, middle ground and background.  I like contrasts in textures, colors, and shapes.  Simply, what does this mean?  It includes subjects that have angles, turns, fronts, sides, backs; things that have layers and do not appear flat.  If the subject matter also evokes a personal feeling, all the better.  My profile image on this website, my painting of ice skates, has all the above mentioned qualities.  And, besides, ice skating has always been one of my favorite sports.  I learned to skate when I was 5 years old when my brothers built a rink in our backyard.  Growing up I was always skating in ponds or at the local rink.  While an undergrad at UNH we were required to take a physical education class every quarter.  My roommate and I always signed up for ice skating.   After college I even earned 5 skating badges!  So it is no surprise that ice skates would appeal to me as a painting subject.  I loved the creases in the leather, the contrast in the boot and the metal blade, and the way the laces wove through the holes in the skates.  Having painted the skates in gouache, I wanted to paint the skates again in traditional watercolor.  In my first painting the skates were lying down so I wanted the new painting to have the skates hanging up.  I set my art bin on my work area, put a hook on it, and hung the skates from it.  I put a black backboard behind the skates so that the busy background would not interfere with my view.  I had a plan to make the skates appear as if they were hanging on a door.  The door would be added later, but I had a PLAN.  It is important to always have a plan for your entire picture and not add on as you go because it will most likely look piecemeal and disjointed.  My plan was to draw the skates and gather photos of a door that I could add later.  Now I could work from my still life.  In the next blog I will begin the drawing for  my painting.