Thursday, November 24, 2011

Arles Alley

This is for Virtual Paintout, November 2011, Arles, France challenge. It's oil on 12x16 canvas panel.

There were several nice possibilities to paint at Arles. This one (ref) stood out because it reminded me so much of some of John Singer Sargent's Venice paintings with narrow streets. The lady in the reference photo was deep in thought, walking down the narrow street in the shadow, while farther down the street, there was strong sunlight. The walls enclosing the alley were aged and have characters, and also made people feel claustrophobic. I wanted to try to capture all these using Sargent style (well, my interpretation of). I added two more people walking from a scene not too far from this original scene. (ref).

Given the painting will mostly be in the shadow, I prepared my canvas first with black acrylic color, and then painted with successive layers of oil paint. At first I tried to paint the walls with brushes, but I couldn't get the roughness and texture I wanted, so I picked up my palette knives. The lady in sunglasses is walking through the narrow alley into a slightly open area in foreground, the it's a little brighter and warmer. The alley gets darker the further it is, until it opens up to the sunny area, painted with cool light.

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