Friday, December 26, 2008

The Skillet Restaurant

Number 1 - Over Easy, Grits, Crispy Bacon, Dry Rye & Black Coffee

This new painting of , The Skillet, is the second painting I've created using this restaurant as my inspiration. The Skillet is a Spartanburg landmark where you can order an incredible breakfast. My favorite is the #1 Special. The restaurant is small so if you can't be seated at a table you might have to sit at the counter. Dining at the counter is always fun because you could be sitting next to a CEO or a student. It is a great melting pot. Someday soon they will be demolishing the shopping center where the Skillet is located and build a new shiny shopping center. I'm trying to record some memories with my paintings of the town I love.

I'll take you along my painting process, starting with my studio set-up. When I'm not painting on location I use my digital photos displayed on my computer monitor as a reference.

I keep little notes to remind me to have fun, squint and to visualize my goal.

Looking down on me is an old photograph I found at an estate sale. George Bellows, the American painter, is pictured at his Woodstock Studio.

Step One
When I have a figure in a painting I'll usually draw out the basic composition. I'm using vine charcoal on a stretched white canvas. I'll fix the charcoal after I finish drawing so I don't make a big smear mess.

I love drawing. Lately I'm painting more than I draw, but actually I feel like I am drawing when I paint because I am looking at the shapes and trying to recreate what I see.

Step 2
In this shot you can see my "block in". My goal is to cover the canvas with the average value of the colors I see in my subject and to establish the shapes. This step really helps me to evaluate my composition.
Step 3
Now I start to define my focal point, "the star of the show". I don't know who this fellow is, but I liked the way he was day dreaming as he waited for his breakfast to be cooked.

I love a finished/unfinished look to my completed paintings, so my painting process gets slower and slower in hopes that I don't finish the painting too much. I always want "the hand of the painter" to be seen - to be able to see the paint, the brush strokes.

Step 4
Working some more of the focal point. The paint starts off thin and gets thicker as I near completing an area.

As with the finished/unfinished look to the painting I also like a balance of thick and thin paint buildup. As in life, it is all about balance.
Step 5
As I work on this painting I want to make sure I keep the cook in a "supporting role" to my star. The cook is in the background and shouldn't be as defined and should be less in focus.

At this stage I like the red/green color pallette, but feel that I need to pop out my focal point more. Perhaps a change in the color of his jacket?
Step 6
I decided to change the jacket color to a red/brown. This decision does add emphasis to the main subject. I've slowed way down now. All the details in the background don't need to be detailed too much. I'm aiming for just a suggestion.

Hope you've enjoyed this painting journey. Creating this blog entry has helped me to really see and "hear" my painting process.

Scroll up to see the finished painting.


  1. I like this painting...The Skillet reminds me a little of Sarasota's "Hob Nob"...out on 301 I think??

  2. Hi Martin! I see you are painting better than ever! You always were at the "top of the class". Met you brother a few years ago at a Brookgreen Gardens workshop. Glad you are still creating and sharing your gift. Best of wishes to you. Happy darwing!