Writer In Florence Ela Vasilescu

Day 84 – The process of creating in six stages by painter Laura Thompson


As I was saying here, a while back I interviewed two amazing people that I admire greatly and am very fond of. After many unexpected delays, their interview is finally ready to be shared with the world, but before doing that, I want to share with you something else. Laura Thompson, one of the stars of this next interview, has handed me some of her thoughts about the process of creating and after reading it, I decided it must be shared and read by any aspiring artist or art lover. So, today’s post is about her and her words. Enjoy!

“Painting must appear to be magical. Like watching a prima ballerina, one must see the apparently effortless talent and not the pain and suffering and bandaged feet. Like magicians, artists and performers must rehears in secret while presenting what appears to be a mastery of illusion to the final audience.

For those of you who believe that a behind the scenes look will not shatter that illusion but rather enhance the appreciation of our struggle, I submit the following stages  which I personally experience when creating a painting.

1.The subject

You see it, you feel it and you want to share it… suddenly it is not simply that you would like to paint it, but rather then it needs to be painted. You imagine that you will transfer this feeling, this moment, this image to a canvas or panel for all eternity so that others in turn may experience the same. You will communicate with those not present, with future generations, with…okay, next step.

2. The planning

You settle on a final composition and feel the enthusiasm for your subject to grow. Blank canvas or panel are prepared, materials laid out and at this stage it is a bit intimidating but still mostly just exciting and full of hope.

3. The start

Everyone has their own method but once the drawing is complete I like to re-draw, correct and establish values (ie. lights and darks) with a brown umber under-painting and this stage is almost always a pleasure as the line drawing takes on a life and dimension of its own. You begin to really feel this is going to work, this painting will be great, my best painting ever! You see it, you feel it, dream it and simply can’t wait for this layer to dry.

4. The work begins

Values…check. Composition…check. Drawing… always checking! Now we are ready for color, choice of background, lost/found edges, high chroma/low chroma, colour temperature, atmosphere, detail, big shapes, planes of unified light, drawing (always the drawing) etc.

The next stage is what an instructor of mine in Florence, Italy always described as the heat of the battle. 

5. Doubt and fear

Wait! Where is the painting? Have I lost it? Gone too far? Can I simplify and bring back the strength of the large forms or do I lack detail? Or worse, both?!? Don’t panic. Think, breathe, evaluate. Place a line, soften an edge, check the drawing…the drawing! How did that move/change? Correct, correct…

Okay, back on track and better for the changes. Repeat above as needed.

6. Finally

A light re-touch varnish to better see the results. Yes, it looks good. Try the frame. Even better. Sleep. The next morning another look. Great! No, no wait. I see more…, this needs…, I could just…etc. Enough! The next one will be better.

Clients often ask what my favorite of my works is and I must always answer the next one for the hope and enthusiasm that begins a painting is often difficult to hold throughout the process. One learns so much with each attempt, that one always feels the next opportunity is when they will invest all of this new-found knowledge.”



About the author

Ela Vasilescu

I’m a writer based in Florence, Italy.

Human nature inspires me, different cultures, traditions, folk stories and the differences which make us unique. Documenting stories is a privilege, a glimpse into humanity, an unforgettable experience, one which I embrace and honour every day.

If you have a story twitching in the back of your pocket, one that is ready to be told, shared and heard, chances are I will be ready to listen; so don’t hesitate to send me an email.

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By Ela Vasilescu
Writer In Florence Ela Vasilescu