Here are four stages of my process for painting architecture, focusing on the central section of Sharamoor, a tranquil island in the heart of the city of Chandara.
First, here’s the color study, painted in oil. What you see is about three by five inches. I like to see how far I can take an idea without any reference whatsoever, because compositional ideas have a certain unity if they’re guided purely by the imagination.
Next I built a quick architectural maquette from painted styrofoam. It's sitting on a mirror to simulate the reflections on still water. I talked about these reference models on a September 15 post.
Based on photos of the maquette and on photos of architecture from India and Thailand, I drew the perspective line drawing. This step alone took about a week. Notice the lines in the sky that gently slope down to the right.
These are called a ‘perspective grid’ and they serve as guidelines when the vanishing point is too far away to reach with a yardstick. By establishing these evenly spaced lines across the whole picture, I can find the slopes of any other lines between them.
There’s still room to improvise on the final oil painting. Notice how the shape of the main dome has changed. My interest now is primarily in light and color. The photo scrap and plein air studies helped establish how the early morning light would look on a gold dome.
From sketch to finish this painting took about four months. The painting is on canvas mounted to a birch plywood panel, 24 by 52 inches. Obviously I couldn’t lavish quite this much time and effort on every single piece of art for Journey to Chandara. At four months per painting, the 150 images needed would take about 50 years to complete! My readers are a patient lot, but there are limits.