Work Process

Studio Setup

I am a landscape painter who prefers the comfort of an indoor studio. When I go out in the field, my camera comes along and returns with plenty of reference material. Once photo editing is complete the monitor, sitting to the left of my easel, displays the selected image. It's a convenient arrangement that makes it easy to switch my view back and forth between subject image and painting while I work.

The studio room has both skylights and color balanced artificial lights. If the day is sunny I can paint under natural light or use the lamps on cloudy days. A glass slab on my taborat serves as a pallette. My choosen medium for the last few years has been water soluble oils. Brush size is mostly 1/4" flats.

Developing a Painting

Painting, for me, is a developmental process. My stable indoor studio setup allows for a thoughtful, responsive approach. Working from the displayed image, much as a plein air painter would work from a scene, the painting proceeds in stages from a quick sketch to a richly colored surface. In the best of times the painting declares itself and I merely follow that lead. Every stage, except for the final few details, is preparation for what's to come next. Appropriate issues are addressed at each stage.

1. First up is a quick sketch. Just enough to establish the major proportions. If the photo composition is deficient this is the best time to for an overall assessment and to make some imrpovements.

2. The next stage is to mass the values and commit to the composition. This is the last best chance to get creative and rise above the raw information in the photograph. After this, making major changes gets increasingly difficult.

3. Stage three is the most fun part. I apply color to the entire surface using open brushwork. This is where the mood of the painting first begins to show: warm or cool, soft or bold, bright or dark etc. I try to do this all in one session paying close attention to color relationships to create a unified look.

4. The fourth stage extends through several work sessions. I build up the color and work in selective details from the photo. Even at this late stage I am still thinking less about completing anything and more about staging for the final effort.

5. Only in the very last stage do I address overall quality and ask myself the question: "How will the painting look to the viewer?" This stage requires the resolution of all pictorial issues, color relationships, focus, imapact and worth.

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Copyright to all artwork that appears on this site is the property of the artist. All rights reserved.
Phillip C. Laughlin, 222 McJay Drive, Williston, Vermont 05495.