A couple of months ago I was commissioned to do an oil painting of the Winged Foot Golf Club's clubhouse and surrounding course. I've done many watercolor house portraits through the years but this painting would be a bit different from a standard house portrait. Here the emphasis would be as much on the landscape surrounding the building as on the building itself.
The process started with a meeting at the Club to take reference photos that would help in completing the painting. I was also shown a painting in the lobby there that the businessmen who had hired me admired.
After returning with photos that were both long-shots of the building and land and close-ups of the details. I worked up a sketch of my idea for the composition and met with the two men.
Coming away with a clearer idea of what they would like, I made a few adjustments to the drawing and figured out the size of the final painting with the help of a proportion wheel which I learned to use more than 25 years ago when I worked as a commercial layout artist and graphic designer.
The next step was stretching a canvas to the dimensions decided upon and then doing a detailed drawing of the building on the canvas. Following that came spraying the drawing with a fixative and then toning the canvas with a pale wash of raw umber.
Now I was ready to lay in my oils as thin washes to establish areas of color and then over a period of days, going back in and adding paint to refine the composition.
As always, there are points all along the way where I have what I consider a dialogue with the painting. Stepping back from it, I study it and allow it to tell me what it needs to reach a point of completion. Details get further defined, shapes get adjusted, colors and values get altered. Gradually, I start to feel that the composition is holding together.
The finished painting, Winged Foot Clubhouse and Grounds, oil on canvas, 17"x25"