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COMPLETED - Cinque Terre

PaulBPaulB mod
edited May 2018 in Post Your Paintings
After @WIKEN posted the wonderful tour of Italy photo blog, I began wanting to paint the Cinque Terre scene. Here is a shrunken version that is not 20MB, so you know which one I mean:

Now that I have secured permission from @WIKEN (thank you!), it begins with some largish Dibond panels I had cut and delivered.

Those are 120cm x 80cm.  I now realize that's not Dibond is it?  Hmm.  I took one of these, filed off the jagged and dangerous cut edges, sanded it to rough up the surface, gave it two coats of primer and drew on a grid.

Here it is compared to my previous largest painting, the size of this one should keep me happy for a long time.  I clearly need to improve my lighting.  I'm now penciling in the various important parts so I can easily see where the sky/sea extend, but otherwise I'll just go square by square, more or less.  I fully expect to run out of paint.

Time to start mixing!  @WIKEN, if you don't mind, I'd like you to go back and take a few closeups, thanks.

Some alarming stats:
  • 80 buildings
  • 72 boats
  • 222 figures, including 1 artist at easel, many are hard to see
  • 92 umbrellas
  • 10 staircases


  • edited July 2017
    Wow! Quite  a project, @PaulB. It's a wonderful scene with that clump of multi-coloured buildings encrusting the rocks between two bodies of water which vary in colour a great deal from background to foreground. You're work is very precise so I'm sure you'll make a fine job of it. If I were doing this I'd approach it just like you - square by square - it's the only way I'd be able to get to grips with the complexity. I'm going to love watching this take shape.
  • edited July 2017
     @PaulB, this is fantastic! Are you familiar with an earlier post here by EstherH "My Hometown Two..." thread, posted Feb. 24, 2017. Your drawing is looking impressive already.
  • BOB73BOB73 -
    edited July 2017
    So what would happen if you applied that "alarming stats" exercise to your basement painting. At least you will be able to use bigger brushes now. I have some 3" and 4" brushes I could lend you?  AKA I think this is a big step for you in more ways than one but I think you are up to the challenge. Good Luck and keep going.

    PS: I'll be looking for all 222 figures!
  • @WIKEN thanks again for generously sharing your wonderful photos. I've got one picked out for myself but at the rate I'm going it will be 2018 before I get to it. It's not the goose.
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    @tassieguy Thanks, it's a big pile of challenges all in one, the largest perhaps being persistence.

    @Forgiveness Thanks, yes, I am familiar with @EstherH's painting, let's call it an homage, not a ripoff.

    @BOB73 Basement stats: 300 item still life in the dark?  I am going to use multiple brushes this time - large and small, depending on what I'm trying to do.  At least I didn't prime it with a rigger brush, that's a start.  Thanks.
  • edited July 2017
    I totally agree, she is so inspiring. I have same going on for later, a fitting homage indeed! Many artists through the ages enjoy capturing such scenes, such a joy!
  • So jealous of all that panel.  Great drawing.  You have been working fast.  Will be watching.
  • You don't waste any time, and you are off to a great  start.  I look forward to watching the progression and being inspired.  
  • wow!!! do u like challenges!!!! =)
  • Woah..this is going to be grand n great! :)
  • PaulB

    Needs to be renamed as Sinking Terror.


  • Anybody look at Cinque Terre and say "this is what Alcatraz could have been."
  • Wow! That will be very intricate.  You are far more patient than me.  Good luck.
  • This will be huge @PaulB, and I'm not talking about the dimensions. The panel prep looks good. This will be fun to follow. 
  • What a huge project! It's going to be incredible when it's finished. How do you even begin to tackle that without getting totally lost in the details? Or do you intend to make it very very detailed? 
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    Day 4 (29 hours in)

    Sorry for the low quality photograph, but my lighting is inadequate, and there's not much to see anyway.  I'm still drawing the outlines of buildings, and oh boy is it slow going.

    The biggest problem is that scaling up from a sheet of paper (on which I have my grid) to the much larger panel is made difficult by the hard-to-see black and white printout.  There are building roof edges that I just cannot see on the printout.

    Luckily, there are many elements of the picture that are situated exactly on the grid lines, such as the corner of a roof of the edge of a building.  These are my key points, and I have placed those on the panel grid.  The rest of it is tricky, so it's mostly done with angles, and I'm interpolating.  There has been a lot of erasing going on, and a lot of time wasted as I just stare at it.

    The eraser in the picture is the only viable one in the house.  Who knew I'd ever need one of those again after school?  We can't remember, but suspect it's 30 years old.  I need a new one, this one crumbles in my hand.  I have a ball of eraser putty, but it petrified sometime last century, and I can't do anything with it. It's like trying to erase with a walnut.  Incidentally, I have brushes this old too.  It's not about how well I treat them, it's how infrequently I use them.

    I painted the sky, which is slightly truncated at the top because the panel cuts were not precise, so it's at least 5mm off.  I took this off the top, because I'll have more fun painting those weeds at the bottom than vague cloud-like fluff.

    I am wondering where to start.  My thinking is that the ocean is first, because I don't think it is wise to try and paint an ocean around a busy skyline.  Then from the furthest to nearest, with the harbor, boats and weeds last, because that's the part I'll be banging me head against, or at least leaning on the most.  Suggestions welcome.  I'm left-handed, so I think I should start on the right, which allows me to slump on it more.

    Aside from the water, I'm considering making this a no-blend picture, or at least trying.  Does anyone have advice on whether I should do that?  The no-blend challenge paintings were great, but there were a lot of complaints about how difficult it was.

    I'm itching to start painting, but it's at least a day away, maybe two, because I still have buildings to outline.  I don't trust myself to do that at the painting stage.
  • edited July 2017
    Hopefully you can see the difficulties in better focus in the color photo? great work! must be demanding maintaining all these perspectives, awesome composition!
  • @PaulB unless you want to grid this out and do tiny squares against tiny squares and then come up to a final painting that looks like the photograph, then, by all means, do not blend.... however, if you find yourself looking at a building or edge or color and think that something would be lovely there or it needs to soften, then, by all means, blend or add - it is YOUR painting and you can do as you please with it - you need no more justification than that. 
  • I strongly reccomend minimal blending. 

    I vastly prefer paintings that have some brushwork and texture to them, a little bit of looseness. The thing about this picture is most of the time you'll probably be using lots of very small brushes and painting tiny details. That in of itself is awesome, but if your also blending everything and making it all perfect and refined it could end up looking like just a neat painting but without any "character". 

    Personally, I think if your able to paint this complex and busy landscape with all this detail AND keep nice brush strokes and little bit of loosenes it will be extremely impressive and make it very enjoyable to look at. Especially in person or with a really high resolution photo. 
  • Btw your drawing is already very impressive...I wouldn't know where to start :)
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    @Boudicca Thanks, I've decided I'm going for a "don't blend unless it feels right" approach.

    @Forgiveness yes, the photo is as good as a photo possibly can be, and I can zoom way in.  But without a grid on the photo, I'll just use that for rendering detail.  I'm happy with the placement of buildings being a little bit creative.  There are places where a few millimeters makes A overlap B instead of B overlap A.  I'm not going to worry about that: more @EstherH, less Escher.

    @Julianna Right, I'm not going smaller than 10cm squares.  But yes edges are going to be something I think about constantly here.

    @movealonghome The print is already 11" x 17", I don't think I need bigger.  I can zoom on the photo to understand complex parts, but there are sections like this, which are impossible to draw, because it might as well be blades of grass.  Sections like this will no doubt be simplified.

    I just noticed I'll be painting rock face in the background.  I'll be taking tips from you on that.

    @edavision Brushwork and looseness is something I cannot yet do, so this will be my first real attempt at some of that.  As for "where to start", the answer is a grid, followed by all the points that are easiest to place with high precision.  Then the next easiest, and so on.
  • I think you should get a bigger print too. You've got your heart set on doing a highly detailed painting and it will be a big disappointment to you if you can't see  the details well enough to paint them. Get a better light two!
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    @BOB73 You have a point there.  Just cutting the photo image in half and printing it at 11" x 17" would double my reference area.

    As for lighting, I now have two 5000K LED bulbs, but I have to turn them off to take a picture, because there is no direction I can point them that eliminates all the glare.  Will work on that.
  • Thanks for the tips on where to start. It would be neat to tackle a big project after I've been learning this method for a while. And I'm continually having to work on having loose brushwork. If I don't consciously think about it I just end up "fixing" all my brushstrokes by smoothing them out 
  • Apply a grid in a paint program over the image, then you can zoom in and still have the grid!
    JuliannaBancroft414[Deleted User]
  • @PaulB, I don't know if thought of this about lights and photographing, I can't get good results unless my picture /painting is standing just about straight up. Hope this helps.
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    Day 6 (35 hours in)

    Sorry for the bad photo, but I'm pressed for time and didn't move the lights properly.  It makes everything look too dark.  Unfortunately, this will be the last update for quite a while.  I have a family emergency, and I'll be away for weeks.  I'll be online but unable to paint.

    The drawing is complete, in that every building has all the vertices represented.  I've also written the colors onto the buildings, because in the middle there, it's hard to tell which building is which, and correlate it back to the photo.  If I don't label them, I'll paint one the wrong color otherwise.

    The ocean is painted, revealing the skyline.  I was going to do this alla prima, or as close as I can get given the long term nature of it.  But by taking a break, this will all be dry, so the ocean will be done in two layers.  I need to add darker ripple marks all over the lower half of the ocean.

    The horizon didn't go so well.  I painted that line in with a rigger brush, but shaky hands, coffee, a wobbly easel, or lack of skill made that a wavy line.  I'll need to redo that, perhaps I'll use masking tape.  I also need to give the horizon more attention because there is a color change there that I had not noticed.

    Happy painting.  Back soon.
  • Best wishes for the family stuff @PaulB
    I had dinner with a school friend last night who will be staying in Cinque Terre next week. Small world. 
  • This is going to be  beautiful, @PaulB. Sometomes a break can give fresh eyes.

    Hope the family issue resolves itself.

  • @PaulB ; Technical question for when you return to us: What primer did you use on the aluminum?  Thanks.  Summer
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    Summer said:
    @PaulB ; Technical question for when you return to us: What primer did you use on the aluminum?  Thanks.  Summer
    Hi @Summer, not quite gone yet, still have a few minutes.  The aluminum had a shiny surface that I sanded until it went matte, then applied this primer (might be a recognizable composition):

    It's a Benjamin Moore "Fresh Start, High Hiding, All Purpose" white acrylic.  What a stupid name.  I just went to my local hardware store, got overwhelmed, and asked for white primer that absolutely must be acrylic.  Two coats, left overnight between coats.  The brush strokes were orthogonal, in the hope of creating some mild kind of tooth, which worked I think because of the crappy old brush I used.  There's an earlier photo of that.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited July 2017
    Thanks.  I'm about to prepare two sheets of aluminum and I'll try this product.  Good to know your application method as well.  :)
  • Don't forget the BandAids.
  • Hope you and your family are doing ok..

    How rigid is the aluminium composite at this size? Does it need bracing?
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    @Richard_P thanks.

    At 120cm x 80cm (48" x 32"), the panel is rigid and unbending on the easel.  It does flex if you pick it up by the ends.  I can shake it and it makes thunder noises.  I'd say it doesn't need bracing for support reasons.

    However, if I stand mine on edge, there is a slight curve to it.  All my unpainted panels have this too, so it wasn't me.  Perhaps during handling it got this shape.  It certainly wasn't manufactured with a curve.  So perhaps gluing a brace to the back for hanging purposes would be necessary, which would also straighten the panel.
  • Thinking of you and your family @PaulB .  I hope you are well.
  • @PaulB. Great composition and idea, looking forward to seeing this progress.

    One thing I thought worth mentioning for the future was that at the company I work at aluminum dust and shavings are considered a hazard and commercial dusk mask/breathing protection is required. You may want to look into this before sanding the additional panels.
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    One thing I thought worth mentioning for the future was that at the company I work at aluminum dust and shavings are considered a hazard and commercial dusk mask/breathing protection is required. You may want to look into this before sanding the additional panels.
    Excellent point, thank you.  I had not considered this.
  • @PaulB ; I'm so glad you are back in your studio again and painting already!   I look forward to your progress photos on this beautiful piece.  
  • Welcome back Paul!!!

  • Welcome back, @PaulB:) 

    I've been looking forward to seeing this painting develop. I just love the composition and the colours. It's already starting to look right. Keep us posted.

  • PaulBPaulB mod
    Thanks @movealonghome, @Julianna, @BOB73 (that song brings back memories), @tassieguy.  It's nice to be home.

    I'll be posting every update on this beast, and tracking the time too.  I think it will take me well into 2018, especially as I'll be interleaving other projects.
  • BOB73BOB73 -
    edited August 2017
    OK but don't take too long. Once I start painting again I won't have much time to swing by and see your progress updates. THe song; I was going to go with Aerosmith's "Back in the Saddle Again" but I couldn't find one without the dirty lyrics. This being a family site'n'all. Welcome back.
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