This is the
initial setup of the props for "California
Highways". In the photo below, you
will see the post card I will be using as my
background on the painting. Above you can see the
'story' beginning to unfold. This oil painting
will show a married couple stopping to have a
refreshment and to write a post card to a friend
while traveling around California via their
automobile and house trailer. All the components
of the painting have a role in telling the story.
I will have the woman
sitting at a picnic table, enjoying a Coke,
listening to her transistor radio and writing
back home on a post card (the post card pictured
here). Her husband will be taking a photo of the
surroundings while she writes. Notice that the
date and stamp are from the mid forties and my
story is from 1956. I will be changing the
postmark and the stamp to conform with the time
This stamp of
"George Eastman" was used in 1956, so I
will replace the 1 cent stamp with this 3 cent
stamp. Very appropriate since the camera being
used in the painting is a "Kodak" box
Here's a close up of the
area where the woman will be sitting. I've
constructed a mock up of a picnic table out of
cardboard. Notice the vintage California state
Here's a close up of the
camera, the Texaco road map of California, and
the six pack of Coca-Cola.
The 'California Pottery'
flamingo portrays the souvenir that this couple
has purchased in memory of their trip around the
state. As soon as I decide how large each object
needs to be in the painting (the car and trailer
need to be considerably larger in scale so that
my people can be proportionately large enough to
be seen in detail when painted) then I will pose
my models (the man and woman) for this painting.
My wife Carol and I may be the models. Like my
wife says "I am not a cheap model... just an
Well, Carol and I decided
that the people in this painting are 'us all
over'. Here you can see Carol writing the
postcard that will adorn the background of the
painting. As she writes, she enjoys her bottle of
Coke, listens to her transistor radio, admires
her souvenir flamingo and looks up to see her
husband taking a photo.
Her husband, with his
Kodak hanging around his neck, decides to record
an image from their trip. Now it's time to
stretch some top of the line linen on some heavy
duty strecher bars. I have determined the final
size of this oil painting to be a slight vertical
at 48" x 45".
I have spent this last
week drawing all the elements on the canvas. I am
beginning the painting by applying turpentine
thinned washes on each element, keeping it fairly
loose. The hue or color of the washes will be
adjusted accordingly when I apply the final
'heavier' application of paint. I will finish the
background (post card) first and then move into
the foreground part of the painting.
Here I am beginning to
block in the stamp.
I've just completed the
black shading around the "California
Highways" lettering and begun the 'palm
tree' area of the card. Notice the date stamp on
the cancellation (1956).
Here's a close-up of the
six pack of Coke (missing one bottle because it's
being drunk by the woman at the picnic table).
Here is the whole canvas
with the entire background 'blocked' in. Notice
how the post card and the stamp are attached to
the edge of the canvas for quick reference. I
have begun the 'real' palm tree on the right to
mimic the trees in the post card and to give me a
taller design element on the right side of the
Here is a close up of the
California 'flamingo souvenir'.
The California souvenir
tablecloth's imagery has black outlines around
all the objects. I'm going to paint in all the
outlines first and then fill in the objects with
their respective colors.
Here is a section of the
tablecloth with the color blocked into the black
outlines. Looks a lot like a child's coloring
book (I'm pretty good at staying inside the
I'm now beginning to
establish the cast shadows from the objects on
the tablecloth. I'm blocking them in with
warm/cool gray mixtures made from ultramarine
blue and burnt sienna.
Here's a close-up of a
Here is an overall photo
of the entire tablecloth completely blocked in
with its first passage of oil.
Here's a close-up. I'll
now move on to each object on the tablecloth,
rendering each with a thin layer of
The car and trailer now
have the preliminary paint.
The transistor radio is
blocked in. The camera is next...
OK, the camera is
history. Now for the Texaco road map...
I'm done with "The
Man Who Wears The Star" (Texaco slogan from
my childhood) and I will move on to the two
figures and the picnic table.
There! Just the man with
his camera and the painting is completely blocked
He's finished! Check out
the next photo...It's the whole painting all
Well, now for about a
month's worth of applying the final paint. It's
obvious to me that the first thing I will have to
do is darken the entire background (since it is
in the shade). I will determine its degree of
darkness (or value) by comparing it to the light
struck objects it frames (ie. the flamingo, car
& trailer, radio).
The background is
completely finished. It is considerably darker
than its underpainting, and now gives a more
subdued 'wall' behind the objects on the
Here's a close-up of the
time stamp. You can see the rich quality of the
heavier paint application compared to the
'blocked in' preliminary paint.
The stamp, now that I
look at it, needs a few darker strokes of paint
on the perforations, in order to show the spaces
between the postcard and the stamp. I'll move
onto the objects on the tablecloth next...
The flamingo is done! Go
up 17 photos and compare it to the way it looked
blocked in. Nice and rich now! On to the palm
tree to the right of the flamingo.
Palm tree is done!
6 pack (5 pack?) of Coke
is done. The Kodak camera is next...
Camera is done. Now the
Radio is finished. The
Texaco map and the car and trailer are next...
Map is finished...
Trailer is finished...
And so is the car. Once I
complete the couple and the picnic table, the
tablecloth will be the final object to be
The husband is finished
So is his wife. Now, just
a few days on the tablecloth and I'll be on to my
Here's the left side of
the finished tablecloth...
...and the right side.
And below is the finished painting...
Wow! This painting took
forever (lots of objects and details!) I think it
turned out great!!!!