Few knew his name but many remembered his face as he made his way along the back roads of the Smokey Mountains. He slowly walked up to the house where he spent his youth and scanned the land with tired eyes. He saw the old truck was parked in it's usual spot beside the field he once worked. He shook his head and smiled. He thought how the years were hard on that old Ford but then realized they were harder on him.
He stood there for a while and just breathed in the air and took it all in. It seemed like no time had past at all. Even the soil was just as hard and cold as he remembered. He tried to to make a go of it but just . . . his mind flooded with memories of his past—even her. Then, the harsh reality of the cold wind brought his thoughts back to the present where he stood alone. The prodigal had returned home but here was no one there to greet him. So nothing changed. Not the land. Not the home coming. Not even him.
DETAIL OF CANVAS; OIL ON LINEN 30x40"
I started this painting with a charcoal drawing which was the best that I ever did—it was fantastic. Masterful. Never before has a drawing flowed so freely from my fingertips. How amazed and impressed I was until I realized the entire layout had to move two inches to the right. I tried to ignore it but I had to wipe off the sketch and redo it. This second drawing wasn't brilliant but it did the job. Oh well.
After that I fixed the charcoal and then gave it an over all atmospheric wash of color to set the tone of the environment. I blocked in the local colors of the face, hat, sky, coat and car with extremely loose brush strokes. After that, I painted the face since it was the focal point and referenced it against the previous color indications.
In my process, the under drawing (if one is even used) is quickly covered up by layers of paint so every stroke of the brush needs to be drawn. In realistic paintings, it's important to realize that each stroke represents a surface fixed within the three dimensional universe. It must be placed in such a way as to turn the flow of light across the figure while giving a defined shape to that form. To me, that's really the biggest technical difference between painters—the various levels of ability to draw form with the brush.