There seem to be few hard and fast rules in oil painting which can be both liberating and paralyzing all at the same time. The one rule I do try to follow is the lean to fat rule. I generally use straight paint until the final layer where I may add a little oil for glazing or small touches. When the painting is dry to the touch in about a week or so I will go over the whole thing with oil. This may or may not be the prescribed method, so if you would like to school me on what is proper please leave a comment. The following is the process I used for this particular painting.
Step One: First I sketched out my composition with vine charcoal, taking pains to get the lines and angles positioned just right.
Step Two: I very loosely blocked in the buildings and water. Then I began painting the buildings on the right, working in an abstract texture with a pallet knife. This was a lot of fun for me to create texture and design using a knife.
Step Three: Here I began working on the left hand side buildings going from back to front. I wanted to keep the back buildings a bit hazy and less defined to indicate distance.
Step Four: Now I’m ready to begin a slightly more finished look on the front buildings. I would still like to keep it fairly loose so I go back to using my pallet knife to add texture but no real detail.
Step Five: It is time to put in the boats on the left and do more work on the gondola on the right. I also decided to add another figure at the railing. She wasn’t in my photo reference, but she was in my head. Also, I’ve made a few adjustments here and there on some of the window lines that looked a little wonky to me.
Step Six: I went back over the water, adding highlights and reflections. I added some flowers to a window box on the right, and went over the sky again. Then it was just some general tweaking and I was ready to sign.
That’s how I tackled this 48″ x36″ work. I used a pallet knife for about 70% of the painting. Comment to let me know what painting rules you follow and which ones you like to ignore.