I’m now working on an ambitious (of course) new painting, with a preliminary title of Downing’s Town.

Around the time of the Revolutionary War, the small village located in between Lancaster and Philadelphia that was formerly known as Milltown was being referred to as Downing’s Town – probably due to the tavern, Downing Mill Inn, that was run by John Downing, whose father, Thomas owned a mill.  The name lost the apostrophe and became what we now call Downingtown.

The preliminary pencil sketch is an important part of getting the composition right, while still remaining open to changes in the later stages of the painting. I tend to draw a more complete and detailed sketch than is strictly necessary. I find the drawing-like sketch helps me visualize the final painting more, and it has become an important part of my process.

I first put paint to canvass in the center of the work. There are many reasons to begin in one spot or another, but in this instance I was just excited to paint the dazzling colors of the fire in a way I haven’t done before!

Never be afraid to use yourself as a model. Here I use my orange coat and a strong backlight to simulate the fiery glow of a figure working at a forge. Check back in later to see what I make out of this image.