My Big Boy Painting Journey starts with a blank piece of paper, the most fearful stage of the journey. The idea is in my head, I even have a tiny test painting I laid out to see how it might look, but actually starting a painting is the hardest part. All my fears of inadequacy come to the surface. Thoughts like, “Am I good enough; is it too hard; will anyone like it; can I satisfy the viewer, etc”. The other side is I can’t wait to see how it will look when I am done, but I know it will be a long time until it is complete. I don’t work fast as a rule because I get a bit bogged down in details. In this case, the Big Boy Steam Locomotive is an historical engine and there are many people that would look closely and critique my work if I get the detail wrong. So much angst placed on one piece of paper.
It is time to start. Most of the time I would draw my image on the paper either free hand, or by using a grid to transfer the image. In this case, because the details are so well known, I did not want to take a chance, so I did a direct transfer from the image onto the paper. I caught most of the details that can be seen on the picture. I have additional historic references that I may visit to highlight some thing that can’t be seen in the shadows of the photo, not sure yet. It would be easier to let them blend in, but I suspect they would be missed.
I started to get the background and sky in the first washes. The trees were giving me a little trouble. I need to find the right combo of black to paint the train. It looks like some purple will be involved.
I worked on finding the right combination of colors to make a black or gray that had the right degree of dark, but a little warmth also. The combination if ultramarine deep (blue) and raw umber (a yellow brown). I tried Prussian blue, but the gray level turned to green which wasn’t at all what I wanted to accomplish.
I removed the masking fluid that kept some of the areas white. I am not a masking fluid fan because it leaves harsh edges, but taking it off early I have a chance to soften the edge and leave a highlighted space.
I struggled to get enough detail without too much, but it is very difficult to see the details on a black photo. I brightened the photo a little to see the details, mostly the shading just gives an allusion of detail, steam trains have a huge amount of pipes and small mechanical stuff on them, just no way to capture all that. I think the most important part of the train is the X4014,
I took this picture outside to show it in a more natural lighting. The painting always looks different in natural rather than the filtered light inside. I like the way this is evolving, but still have difficulty deciding on how much detail should bee brought out considering the train is in motion and there would be some blurring of the mechanics of the wheels.
Continue to check back as I will add new images along the journey.