Today I just finished a painting that someone commissioned me to paint for them. The individual spent a year abroad in Spain and wanted me to capture the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, Spain on canvas. It is a popular gathering area which is considered the heart of Salamanca and is regarded as one of the most beautiful plazas in Spain. She wanted me to capture the plaza at night with people gathering among its shadows. The prep for the initial lines took me quite some time. I did a small sketch of the building and made a grid to enlarge it to its larger proportional size. Getting the perspective right in this piece was crucial and, with all the detail in the building, I had to be as precise as possible with my measurements. Once these lines were transferred onto the canvas I felt like the hardest, most important, job was done!
It was fun to shift gears and start laying down a wash of yellow on the canvas. I love technical drawing, but it can be strenuous on the mind, and my mind in particular needs a good layer of wash here and there to keep it feeling in balance.
After I laid down the first coat of paint, I mixed a darker yellow ochre color to start building up the shadows and painted that on.
I then started adding a coat of black to all the areas that needed it and, in this stage, the sky felt very dark and ominous.
I added another coat to the black areas which calmed down the sky a bit. I contemplated doing a third coat on the sky, but I liked the way that the underlying strokes added texture and movement so I decided to leave it alone. I was really pleased with the way that the yellow reacted when I put layers of black wash over the shaded areas.
I was holding off with the ground until I decided in my mind how I was going to go about painting it, but once I was done with the majority of the building I was ready to take it on. More yellow wash was added to the ground.
I then started painting vertical black washes over the yellow which would act as shadowed reflections from the building.
I added more layers until I got the ground looking the way I wanted it to.
Lastly, I added some colored pencil details in the building and painted some silhouettes of the people congregating in the plaza. She wanted her and her family painted in the crowd as well so I added some figures in color along with her and her family in the bottom right corner. This painting was something totally different that anything I have ever done and it was a good challenge for me!