I worked up the preparatory drawing for this painting a few days before I left for my trip to New York, and varnished it before I left, so when I came back to the studio today it was all dry and ready to start the under painting. Might be hard to see yet what it is - it's an antique silver gravy boat and a seashell perched beneath a 'wave' of wax paper.
I'm not videotaping this painting like I have previously, but I took photos while painting today. The first layer of under painting is just quickly roughing in all the values, I spent about 3 and a half hours today. Today is probably the only day I'll cover the entire surface in one painting session.
The initial contour drawing took about 8 hours over 2 days. I started the basic block-in drawing on trace paper but completed the final refined linework directly on the gessoed panel. Then I varnished it with a mixture of damar, turp, and a tint of titanium white to seal the drawing and the porous gesso surface. This makes a nice surface to paint on - not too thirsty, not too slick - and also prevents the graphite pencil from mixing with my first layers of paint.
I start the underpainting in the darkest black areas and work in steps up to the lightest lights.
The painting is still rough and brushy at this stage. The paint texture is hard to control at this point, and I'm just massing in values, so I try not to spend too much time worrying about unwanted textures.
I am planning my teaching schedule for 2010 so take a look at my teaching page and sign up for my mailing list to be notified when I post new classes and workshops.