Slide Show: Clocks: Window on Queen Street, Toronto

Stage 1

The artist begins by applying a yellow watercolour wash to achieve a warm overall tone, and starts to apply layers of underpainting on the left side. Individual details in the centre already appear in their final form; these details serve the artist as a key, establishing a level of realism to which the rest of the painting will be brought.

Stage 2

Additional layers of background wash have been added to the top and right sides, subtly darkening the tone of the whole composition. By painting dark colours over the background washes, the artist has enhanced the contrast between the walking figure and the background and has deepened the background shadows. He has also begun to sketch additional details in the central portion; the new detais below the walking figure have a strikingly Cubist appearance.

Stage 3

Here the complexity of the finished piece starts to become apparent. The underpainting has advanced considerably along the top and right side, and much more detail has been added to the central portion. Little of the original drawing remains visible. Although many of the details are already realistic, only one or two have acheived their final form: the small face in the centre, the gilded cup below it and to the lower right. The remaining details will be treated to many more transparent washes before they attain their final texture and shine.

Stage 4

By adding a series of brown washes, the artist shifts the painting’s tonal balace towards red. He is attempting to brighten the colours and increase the contrast between the highlights and shadows: the darker the surrounding shadows, the more clearly objects emerge. A great deal of detail has been added, notably the soldier figurine; very little of the original drawing remains visible.

Stage 5

After a hiatus of several months, the artist returned to this painting. Pleased by recent experiments with mixed media, he reworked the whole composition in oil. The colours are markedly brighter: the central goblet is beautifully delicate but pale; contrast it with the new red, blue and gold highlights that the artist has been able to achieve with oil paints. This new medium will render the finished product more visually spectacular and more three-dimensional in its texture.

Stage 6

The artist has reworked the entire painting in oils. One obvious consequence is that the shadows and midtones are a great deal darker than watercolours could ever produce; the brighter colours of oil paints also make the highlights stand out that much more. The artist has added a great deal of detail to the objects in the foreground, many of which are now complete. Note the almost Cubist area just below the walking figure; this combination of slightly abstract elements with highly finished ones is characteristic of Tolmie’s latest work, making the paintings more realistic than a uniformly finished appearance would be.

Stage 7

Most of the changes here are in the details. The artist has finished all of the elements in the foreground (such as the four figurines at the very bottom of the painting, which where still rather loose in the previous stage) and has added detail to the clock faces. He has also smoothed out the background, making the surface more even, the colour richer, and the edges softer. The most important change, the one that ties together the painting’s elements into a coherent statement, is the addition of vertical lines in the centre, creating the impression of reflections on a store window and clarifying the space that this painting is representing. Click to view the finished work.

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