Nittany Lion Inn - "Change of Classes" In-progress journal
Karl Eric Leitzel July, 2009 main web site
Adding Buildings and Figures
I'm now on to the lengthy process of painting in all the buildings and figures. Schwab Auditorium, on the right, is the most prominent building and needs to be depicted accurately, even though the finished style will be rather impressionistic. There is a difference between "loosely rendered" and "incorrectly rendered". In all aspects of an impressionistic painting, it is better to leave a detail undefined than add something that is visually or technically incorrect and thus make it more difficult for the viewer to connect with the illusion of reality. The other buildings are farther away and partially obscured by trees and distance, and so can be more generally depicted.
The overall look of the painting at this stage is a litle flat in terms of color and contrast, but that is intentional. Once everything has been covered with this first layer I can begin adding more intense color and heavier brushstrokes to build the intensity and "presence" of the painting. At that stage I can also make slight corrections in detailing, or in other spots soften or interrupt lines to lessen detail, as needed. A strict realist would, at that same stage, keep sharpening detail as much as possible, but that's not the intention in my style of painting.
Closeup at This Stage
A closeup view at this stage shows the pencil sketch as well as the application of the first layer of paint. Even now, I sometimes see an already painted area that I want to dab paint on to begin to adjust and build up, so there is no strict division between the stages of the painting. In general, though, I'm working to get everything initially covered. As I finish the painting later, I'll also strive to keep a fresh, loose look, and avoid overworking the surface. Even with this loose style, the large size of this canvas and the many elements make it a long process compared to most of my work.
At the End of Day 2
Today I've made good progress in adding the buildings and background figures, as well as some of the large foreground figures. I also keep adding to the tree limbs and foliage as I feel so inclined. My hope is that tomorrow I will finish the rest of the figures and otherwise complete the initial layer of painting. I may even be able to start the process of overpainting and building toward the final look, which for me is the most exciting phase of the work and the part I can get completely lost in.
For now, though, I keep mixing paints and then looking for parts of people or articles of clothing that need that approximate color of paint. With the largest foreground figures, however, I more often work on the entire figure at once. No particular reason, it just feels right to do it that way. A unique thing about painting is that there is no right or wrong methodology other than a few basic rules related to how the medium functions best. The end result is what matters, and every artist will find his or her own ways of getting to that end. We can get helpful hints from one another and new things to try out, but not all will transfer well from one artist to another, and trying to paint like someone else will more than likely end in frustration.