A Progression Of A Painting - The Yachts at Keppel Bay
Have you ever wondered what goes through an artist’s mind while working on a particular painting or how the creation process actually happens? This is one of the questions I get asked quite often, so I thought I would share with you the process for one of my pieces. Reflections at Keppel Bay is a mixed media painting that I did as part of my Singapore Landmark Collection, and it depicts the iconic marina and Reflections waterfront condominium at beautiful Keppel Bay.
A SPARK OF INSPIRATION
Keppel Bay is one of my favourite spots in Singapore to escape the bustling downtown crowds, and one day as I walked across the bridge I instantly fell in love with the viewpoint looking straight across to the dynamic Reflections towers with the waterfront scene laid out in front with all the yachts and boats bobbing on the water.
Singapore celebrates its modern architecture very well, and during my eight years living there I was drawn to the way the city evolved with new buildings constantly popping up. Reflections was one of those cutting edge modern buildings, a luxury condominium designed by architect Daniel Libeskind who has designed many world-renowned buildings including the One World Trade Centre in New York. I just knew I wanted to include this iconic waterfront property in my Landmarks collection.
RESEARCH AND PREPARATION
Whenever I decide on a landscape scene I want to paint I like to visit at different times of the day because various elements can take on a different look or feel depending on when you go. It’s also nice to get a holistic view of a building or a place. When I was painting Keppel Bay I would take my children to Privé for brunch and then do some photo taking and walking, or what you might call a bit of a recce. I also visited at other times with my sketchbook and tried to get a sense of the energy of the place and jot down some notes and sketches.
FROM ON SCENE TO BEHIND THE SCENES
I generally like to take lots of photos and do some quick sketches on site and then I go back to the studio to get started on the actual piece. For my Landmark paintings, I worked mostly large scale, so it was easier to be in the studio scaling the composition. Plus it’s too hot in Singapore to be sitting outside sketching for hours!
I use the photography and sketches as a starting point and draw up my chosen landmark view roughly. Usually, I use grey artist’s paint and a brush or an artist’s acrylic pen to draw in the first outlines. This forms the composition for the painting and gets tweaked as the painting progresses through my usual process which includes acrylic paint, glazes and silver leaf.
At first, I actually painted the background blue and I thought it looked OK, but then I felt it would have much more of an impact if it was a brighter colour, so I choose a bright cadmium yellow for the background and the reflections on the water. Singapore has a hot climate year round and constant humidity, so I think this yellow is a perfect way to visually describe the environment. I try not to overthink my colour palette when I am painting, and instead let the colours come through instinctively.
CHALLENGES AND PROGRESSION
The start of a painting is always the most fraught as decisions on things like the composition and scale are made then. I really don't like any interruptions when I am in this stage. It’s a good thing then that I love being in the studio because hours can pass at this stage without me realising what time it is.
This painting is a large piece at 185 x 122 cms, so I was working on 'Reflections at Keppel Bay' for a few months. It’s really the process of mixed media that can be very time-consuming. Take for example applying all the miniature squares of silver leaf for the reflections on the facades of the towers. In the end though, I thoroughly enjoyed even the most tedious bits of work, and I ended up with a piece that I am immensely proud of.
PUTTING IT ALL IN PERSPECTIVE
I love glamorous waterfront destinations, super luxurious yachts and the idea of having a home on the water, so this painting spoke to that passion. Also, over the years I have developed my own style of painting water with colours overlayed in tinted glazes to build up the depth and reflected colours in the water, and this piece gave me the opportunity to work more on that technique.
I recently visited some gorgeous yachting destinations in Croatia and the South of France, and I took some photos of the marina at Marseille in the evening, which was amazing because there was so much colour even at night. I hope to be able to add some of those scenes to my collection of waterfront paintings at some point. I am also talking to a client about doing a commissioned painting of a yachting destination. There are so many gorgeous spots around the world to choose from!
Although the original Reflections at Keppel Bay painting has already been sold, you can still get a signed limited edition print of this wonderful waterfront scene, as well as other prints of iconic Singapore buildings and scenes in the Singapore Landmark Collection. And if you’re planning a trip down to Keppel Bay anytime soon, be sure to read My Guide to Singapore’s Keppel Bay.