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  • Writer's pictureJussi

Building painting "15" for the exhibition About Light

One of the latest paintings, "15" serves here as an example of my style of building a picture. Doing just enough to convey the idea but just below the "too much of everything" and "sweat". For me it has always been a struggle to hit the sweet spot where the painting is ready and everything else is just covering the canvas with surplus detail. So I tried very hard not to overdo.

An example from Rabat Medina

The theme for December show is about light. My art teacher once said "paintings are made of light". So, the main thing since then is for me not to paint light but let objects and shadows reveal how light affects everything it meets.

One of the latest pictures "15" I paid more attention to light.

The picture shows a very typical night and strongly lit alley corner where the shadows and form play an important role to me.

Into the drawing

I start my paintings always with a drawing.

It might be a light sketch with minimal lines and directions or even stronger ink lines that are meant to remain visible after all the layers of color. Also the drawing serves as fitting and framing the subject so that the composition is pleasing at this point. I also mark some spots of detail.

Yet, perhaps the most important thing for me is to leave redundant details and unnecessary bits off. I mean does it add to the composition... If not I try to leave that part out.


After the Drawing is in a shape I feel correct enough I move into painting.

In this picture I chose to start off with the shadows in India ink. The deepest shadows first and then deepening the other as well. After getting enough differences in the surfaces and their value about correct I moved into paying more attention to the subtle details in the shadows.

I was paying careful attention to preserving the light.

I was paying careful attention not to retouch surfaces where the ink and water started forming nice, unexpected swirls.

Eventually I overpainted the rightmost strip of highly lit wall corner. That seemed to be a disaster in the beginning. Luckily enough I could brush and wash the excess ink off the corner so saving the direct light in there.

Last but not least detail was to draw the wires and some shadows cast on the wall behind them. Also the final touches of colored ink in some walls and it seemed to be more or less ok.

This painting "15" was built on linen canvas primed with white gesso and three layers of fine watercolor base.

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