Joe Garcia: Outside the Box

Early Light (watercolor, 11×29)

Unusual formats give Joe Garcia?s wildlife paintings something most others don?t have-?a broad perspective. By stretching the traditional picture area out into tall verticals or wide horizontals, he?s able to place the wildlife firmly in its environment and give the viewer much more to linger over than a standard format would. Plus, he says, these different sizes “bring a new vitality to an old friend.”

Not all wildlife subjects require this approach, but as soon as Garcia chooses one?-before the painting process begins-?he stops to consider what format will work best. Many times it?s the environment that most influences this decision by naturally creating an interesting vertical or horizontal approach to the subject. “Often as I look at my subject I?ll immediately get a mental image of the painting, and a quick pencil or thumbnail sketch will help capture that thought.”

Garcia always paints his main subject first, beginning with controlled washes and working to a significant level of detail, including glazing in some appropriate shadows. Then, for the rest of the painting, he paints wet-into-wet by saturating the remaining surface area with water, right up to the edges of the subject. Then he paints in large brushstrokes of color. “As the paint runs together, my wet-into-wet wash is created, and like to call this method a controlled accident.”

Sitting Easy (watercolor, 22×9 3/4)

At the end of the process, Garcia always return to the evaluation of the painting?s format, adjusting details and adding glazes if necessary, because sizes like these require a delicate balance. “You don?t want your subject to disappear, but you also don?t want it to be so visually dominant that the majority of the painting holds no interest.”

Martha Newfield is an artist and instructor for Cincinnati, Ohio-based Master Class Studios.

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