Marble Painting in Progress

This is an iphone shot of a large commission piece that I am currently working on.  At 58"x58"  it is one of the largest pieces I have ever tackled, and I though it would be a great opportunity to track my progress.

Building the panel was the first step, and I suspect, when all is said and done, it will have been one of the most time consuming. I usually paint on mounted rag board, but given the size of this piece that was not really feasible. So I opted for a  very fine weave portrait linen stretched over cradled Luan board for rigidity. I then did 6-7 ( I lost the exact count) coats of gesso with sanding in between. This erased all traces of the linen weave. I didn't sand down my final coat too finely- I wanted to leave some tooth to the surface ( I dislike painting on an overly slippery/slick surface). Between sanding all the layers, the drying time, and the rookie mistakes (there were several), the panel took over a month to be prepped to where I was satisfied with it. 

The next step was my drawing. I did a charcoal drawing of the marbles and their cast shadows. I wish I had thought to take a picture at that stage... at least you can still see traces where I altered the composition by moving the upper left marble up and in a bit. I know many artists like to start their drawing directly with paint, but I have to work my way up to the oils. First I draw in charcoal, then I block in the color with gouache and then, finally, I get into the oils. This photo was taken the color block gouache stage. Since the final background color for his piece is a light cream/beige I just left it the white of the gesso –no need to fill in with gouache. The warm and cool tones and the shadows you see are just the result  of my poor camera choice – it really it is just a white background at this stage. I'm hammering that point because I know that the next step is actually adding the shading to the background and I want it to look like I actually did something! I will be sure to bring my good camera...