This is a 24×36 commissioned painting of Cape Town, South Africa, that I have completed in July. The customer who ordered this piece lives in UK, so we did all of our communication by email and then I shipped him the final result. He is originally from South Africa, hence Cape Town has a special meaning to him. I have not yet been there, but South Africa is certainly on my list!!! I worked off the photographs that he emailed me.
Cape Town has a gorgeous waterfront, so seeing all the initial photos and visualizing the possibility of painting this beauty has me drooling from the beginning!
Below is the progress of the painting from start to finish. Click on each photo to see it in larger size.
Fist, as always, I create the outlines:
Then, the very dark colors (a.k.a. “underpainting”) get filled in:
More dark colors now fill out the Table Mountain, and I started developing the foreground details and adding highlights:
I have started doing my “crazy thing” with the sky. I knew I wanted to add some clouds yet in the end give the sky that warm sunset glow. (The sun actually sets over the water and across from Table Mountain.) This was my initial sky development, looking a little dark still. Both the customer and I agreed that clouds in the end should look less stormy:
Then I sat down for another painting session, and somehow my sky ended up going in an entirely different direction. No vertical lines! No stormy clouds! More of a “traditional look”, if you will:
But, after seeing this sky version, the customer said: “What have you done? You have ruined it!!!” …Ok, ok, I am joking – that is not what he said, and he was actually extremely polite. But, my original “signature” vertical lines is what he really liked, and this new sky direction was a total surprise to him. Frankly, it was my mistake for getting so carried away while painting that this dramatic change took place. It was also a slight email miscommunication, as I thought his wording indicated that he wanted a much “softer” look.
Luckily, when painting, every request for correction just presents an opportunity to make that painting better. Also, I LOVE painting skies, so going back to those puffy clouds and vertical lines was no problem for me at all. And in the end, when a painting has multiple thick layers of paint on it, it just adds to the richness of its texture – so, there are no mistakes when painting with acrylics. Only adjustments!
After a few more brushstrokes, I presented him with “Sky #3”:
And that was a winner! A few more highlights, and the painting is complete:
Here are a couple of detail shots:
When Mr. and Mrs. V in England finally received and opened a giant package from across the pond, I got a happy email telling me how much they loved the painting. I also loved working on it!! And as for my personal opinion on the sky, I still can’t decide which version – #2 or #3 – I like better. Looking at the photos now, I think I indeed like the final result – #3 – best (#2 does seem a bit too traditional). However, when sky #2 was there sitting on my easel, it just looked great. Something about that paint texture which doesn’t translate in digital photos and can only be seen in person made sky #2 work for for me as well.
Now I definitely have to visit Cape Town.