I worked on this commissioned piece a couple of weeks ago, and really enjoyed it. I love painting markets and this market in Colaba in Mumbai took me right back to a place I miss.
Here is a little bit of my process (from when I remembered to take shots as I worked through this).
I started this one with a series of little thumbnails and then a rough drawing. More notes to myself than anything. Because this was a complex piece, not based on a single image, and I wanted to make pull together thoughts on layout as well as things I wanted to include in my final piece.
When I draw on location, I don’t always use a pencil to start with. If I do, it is only to roughly indicate perspective. Here, I marked out a lot more in pencil. Then I inked it in. I still keep my pencil lines loose so it doesn’t feel like I’m just copying them over in ink: That sort of re-drawing seems to make my drawings go lifeless.
The first bit of color on the piece is always exciting. I like working things wet-in-wet, with passages of color changing as they go along, but being continuous.
I took this shot at a point at which I paused in the piece. You can see there are no big passages of color in how I build this piece. In painting a landscape or any piece in which I feel there is a big dominant swatch of color, I might put that down first but in busy crowded places, I like working like this: creating little passages of color, recording the patchwork like quality and chaos of it, yet holding in the back of my mind the fact that they need, ultimately, to come together.
And here is the finished piece.
One of my favorite parts of creating this piece is that I could pull ideas and objects I wanted into it. Little things that made me happy, that you might not notice, like adding an Atlas cycle to the scene, hinting at the names of the stores (spot Mahavir and Jay Bharat?), deciding what fruit and vegetables to add to the market.( I resisted the urge to add mango, because when the mangoes arrive, everything else takes a back seat!), and lots more stuff that you cannot even clearly “read” in the image.
And to make it really immersive, I found a video with street sounds in India and played it while I worked on this.
Here is a little video tour of the piece with the soundtrack that played while I worked.
One day soon, I hope to be back sketching in my happy place in person. But until then, I’m enjoying hanging on to and recreating the memories.