"Immerse yourself and be transported" *|MC:SUBJECT|*

I Spy With My Eye...

I spy with my eye...

Refinements, refinements, refinements. As I near the finishing line, I often find that the smallest change can make a huge difference. As I paint, I try to remember to take photos along the way, so that I can compare the before and after.

Here's the final version of "Out On The Town", 20" x 20", oil on canvas

As I get to the refinement stage, the changes are usually less noticeable. Of course, the moment I change one part, there's no going back to the way it had been. Hopefully the piece has improved, but not always. No problem, regardless of the outcome, it's always a good learning experience to try to decide what about the new part helps or doesn't help, what about the previous version perhaps worked better, and then figure out where to go next. Sometimes I feel like I'm playing the game “I spy”, searching for the differences.

I've been asked by people to show before and after photos, often I haven't wanted to share them, who wants to share the ugly stages? Or perhaps someone will prefer the before? No matter, it's all part of my process, so here goes.

Here are two earlier stages, notice the transparent yellow top left in the second image. Can you spy the other main changes?
These two photos show more refinements. The dark on the left was too much, but it needed to be laid down so that it could be buried in the next layer. In the second image you can see parts remaining, adding history. How many other differences can you find?

A few last changes and it suddenly all comes together.
You can see this and other paintings on my website.


The changes are incremental, so from one to the next it isn't always obvious, but when I review the step by step photos, the progression stands out.

Here's the finished version of "On The Outskirts", 30" x 30", oil on canvas

Below are previous stages. The dark rounded shapes were too strong, so I changed them, but can you find the changes between these two versions?

Here's one hint. I spy something blue... There's another more subtle difference. Can you find it?

Parts get covered, areas are simplified. It's a continual dance; I get into the flow, add colors and marks, get totally lost in the process, and then step back to assess. Sometimes new parts need to expand or be lost, but each and every stroke is important. If it gets covered, well then it adds to the rich history of the piece. Colors below shine through in an imperceptible way, they create the luminosity I want, the glow.

I knew the dark circles (well not quite circles but you know what I mean) were too strong. First I tried losing parts, and then I found I really missed them! But they hadn't been right, so... they came back in orange with a few other tiny changes that make all the difference!

Here's the final version shown in a room.

Once I'm settled and feel I've finally finished a painting, I often like to go back to review the succession of changes towards the end. It's a rewarding lesson. The piece may have been OK at an earlier point, but I always feel the final refinements really bring it to the next level.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my process,

Lydia Johnston's Fine Art
"Immerse yourself and be transported"