Reminiscence, 24 x 36 inches, oil on linen
Here is a recent commission painting. Sometimes commissions are really hard to do. Having to create a painting to someone else's satisfaction - the client may or may not have the same aesthetic or even a sense of what works and what doesn't - is not what you'd call a walk in the park. I stopped doing illustration work for that very reason.
This painting, however, painted itself! It helped that I had done several studies and variations of this facade over the years, and that my client gave me full freedom to do whatever I wanted. As complex as the details are, it was a real pleasure to work on them. I wish all commissions were like this~
A detail shot of the sculpture. Five years ago, I probably would have painted more detail in the face, defining each feature more clearly. I'm particularly happy that I was able to resist the urge to differentiate the hair (the funky Catholic monk do) from the face. Simplification like that doesn't happen intuitively, but it's a result of a conscious decision to say more with less. Lots of trial and error and leaps of faith.
Decorative arch detail. The reflected light is lighter than the dark underpainting, and it is opaque as opposed to the transparency of the dark notes underneath. I think of the dark notes as shadow - defined as "state of not being lit" - therefore it makes sense for them to be transparent (recedes when juxtaposed against opaque notes) and being underneath the lighter notes of the reflected light.
Reflected light is painted opaque because it's light (not direct light, but still light) and I think of it as illuminating the areas which, without its presence are the transparent, dark, receding shadow areas represented by the underpainting.
To be sure, dark receding spaces and reflected lights can be painted opaquely or transparently - Any value can be achieved independent of it's opacity - but doing it this way make logical sense to me, and without logic, I can't do anything. You may be able to, but I can't.
Figures emerging from the darkness. The values are subdued (white blouse is nowhere near white) and edges are soft or lost, so that these figures don't become "stars" of the painting. The painting isn't about these people. They're bit players in the story, so they need to be treated that way.
A side note: I used a photo reference for the building, but the lighting is altered a little bit. The figures are made up.