• Monica Callaghan

Step by Step - Wedding Shoes

I made this painting as a gift for my daughter and her husband. They had just gotten married and I wanted to remember the day with a painting. I had a small photo printed out as well as a larger digital image.

Step 1 - Draw

For the drawing I made a 10x10cm grid on the canvas to help get the placement. I used a 2B pencil to do a line drawing of the picture. The important thing here was to get the feet, hands and clothing down. Hands and feet are harder than I thought because they are like mini portraits - in terms of their form but also the way they are held.

Step 2 - Shading

This is a step I use in portraiture and not much else. But because the dress was white and the suit was dark, I needed to be very clear on what were the lightest elements and what were the darkest so as to model the form beneath the clothes. Once I had defined shadow areas with my pencil, I used a fixitive spray to set the grey in place.

Step 3 - Acrylic wash

For this stage I used fairly watery paint to block in the big area of darks and lights. Here I also spent a bit more time looking into what details I would and would not include from the paving and greenery. I start laying in more expressive colours because I want this to be a loose and colourful painting rather than a replication of the photo. So once I have mapped out the shoes, I start to introduce some of those colours into the rest of the painting.

Step 4 - Thick paint

Here I am laying down thicker more saturated colour. Also this was where a lot of time was spent on the hands. With the hands, the greatest challenge was the discrepancy in size - it felt wrong but was right. I could have spent a long time faffing here but when you start getting too focussed on one element, stand back and take a break. This is also where I let a lot more expressive colour loose. When it comes to doing this, my main concern is always value. I am happy to completely deviate from reality so long as the value is right. So for example is the purple a mid tone or a dark? Use the right value in the right place.

That's it! The point of these step by step breakdowns is just to demystify the process. Also you will see that with different paintings, I go about things in different ways. It depends on the medium I am using, the subject and the style. Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions. I will do my best to answer although I am still on my own journey....I hope it never ends.

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