The Dawning Light WIP

Hiya guys, I've got this awesome high octagon roof ceiling in my house that I've always wanted to paint ever since moving in. It's especially beautiful in the morning as the sunlight beams through the high windows above. From the earliest kindlings of light from passing traffic and the subsequent hours passing by there after, the beams move down, shifting, every moment is beautiful. 
I wanted to create an amalgamation of all these moments in time and shifts of hue and tone in one piece somehow..

I have some yummy linen that I've been itching to use for the right project. So I decided to use some and reveal its lovely frayed edge texture in what I hope to be an interesting multilayered almost to abstraction piece.

Making the Support

The frayed linen was first stretched out on to hardboard with strong PVA glue and left to dry.

The canvas was primed with the design of the final composition in mind.

I wanted some of the raw linen colour to show through in the final so a very diluted layer of gesso was applied first all over just to seal the support first. Then I went in with a few layers of undiluted gesso, applied with the final composition in mind in an abstract design.

Preliminary Studies

Tonal Studies

A photoshoped amalgamation of dozens of photographs I took throughout the early morning when the light was at its best.

The layered image above was used as just a loose reference as there are many elements I wished to include in this painting that cannot be seen here.

A little thumbnail colour study was painted alla prima to suss out the colour palette.

Small 3" colour study to workout exact hues to be used.

Mixing & Titanium White, Lemon and Cad Yellow, Ultramarine and Cerulean Blue, Monestial Green, Cobalt Purple, Permanent Rose, Raw Umber and finally Burnt Sienna.

The effect and order in which I'll be applying the paint will be quite different for the final piece though as I wished to create a reverberating layered effect with scumbling and glazes.

With the preliminary plans sorted I could go straight in with the underdrawing.

Preliminary Drawing.

Preliminary Drawing. The working lines will be kept to give more interest and directional movement.

Side view.


An acrylic raw umber mixed with slow drying medium underpainting was done by first laying a wash all over then removing the bright white patches before the paint could dry. Then I went in with a little more detailing and darkening, making sure to keep things still slightly blurry at this point in time or risk edges becoming to stark later as the layering of more detailed oil paint will inevitably start defining the edges more.. Also the darks were kept slightly lighter than they would be in the final as well.. 

Underpainting in acrylic.

Once dry I went in with a damp kitchen towel and rubbed the periphery to gain back some of the texture of the linen underneath (the tops of the linen weave lightened with the rubbing) , unifying and giving a more gradual transition from the rough border to the image within.

Next was the oil!

Starting With Colour!

As I was going to be using a layered effect, it was important that each layer dry before each consecutive scumble was applied. Thus a mix of alkyd and oil paint was used so I should be able scumble at least 1 layer a day. The ever increasing fatty layers (to adhere to the fat over lean principle) shouldn't take the drying time any longer than this as I wish to still have a visible underdrawing and tone in the final piece and not many layers will be applied.

Details were were clarified with each layer of scumbling and paint strokes were kept smooth as subsequent scumbles/ glazes will pick up and accent any unwanted texture left by previous strokes.

As you can see I turn off certain layers on my photoshopped amalgamation (shown above) and make the opacity 100% so I can concentrate on certain lighting effects and colours I want to be in the final piece but is not visible when all translucent layers are visible in the PS image.

At this point, since the paint I'm using has very little medium in it and I am being careful to only apply a thin layer, it is a bit difficult to get the tiny details as the brush tends to splay out too much. This is ok as starting too early with hard details can make the piece look stiff and too hard edged in the final. So now I focus on laying a base with the right hues and of course clarify details as much as possible.

After I had laid a solid base of the overall hues I could go in and start glazing in the light patches that had a tint of colour and gauge properly how these hues would hold together with the rest of the piece. At first attempt, the exact tint in my sourced photos from early morning, clashed badly when I painted them combined with the hues from later in the day. They didn't work harmoniously together, so I had to adjust the hues of the tints slightly to get the feel I was looking for for the piece with a more harmonious palette.

Clashing coloured light patches that were later toned down.

The directional lines I had drawn earlier were then re established by scratching them in with my palette knife.. These lines really make 'All' the difference, I feel, to the interest and composition of the piece. 

Reestablished the directional lines.

After this I went in with a little more detailing and subtle hatching to create an interesting paint surface on closer inspection (though it is meant to be seen from about an arm or two lengthes).

Subtle hatching lines with paint.

By now the hues of the coloured light patches had been adjusted a bit to create a harmonious painting and achieve the primary objective - to somehow convey that feeling of quite intrigue, as one looks up at the beauty of illumination created by the beautiful shifting patches of light in this octagonal dome..

Finally it was complete...

'The Dawning Light'
Size: 7.9 x 7.9 Inches. 
Oil on Linen board.
Here it is complete, scanned and colour corrected as close as possible to the original piece. 

Check out more info at '
The Dawning Light'.
Thanks so much for dropping by guys!


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