"Unemployment Line", a work in progress by Max Ginsburg.
Here is an outline of how he begins painting a figure composition:
1. Conceptual pencil sketches.
2. Painting studies of each model.
3. Compositional pencil sketches based on the painting studies.
4. Place a one inch grid over the compositional study to be used which, in this case, is 4" x 8".
5. Stretch a canvas, 40" x 80", the same proportion as the sketch, and draw a 10" grid.
6. In charcoal approximate the position and size of the figures.
7. Paint, in a direct alla prima manner, each model as a loosely painted block in from life. So far in this painting each model posed 3 or 4 hours.
8. When all the models and background have been blocked in the development of the forms and the composition will proceed, with the models returning for several sessions each.
Max Ginsburg commented : A lot of sketching, research and thinking has gone into this before I reach this stage. I have also painted studies of each person to reinforce the unique look of each model. The size of this canvas is 40" x 80" based on an initial 4" x 8" compositional sketch. (Half of the canvas, left side, is cropped here). With the aid of a grid I have roughly indicated the size and placement of the figures. Then I had each model pose for 3 or 4 hours for each block in. The manner of painting is alla prima and without details. As the rest of the figures are blocked in I will develop the compostion as well as the figures and to some degree even the concept might change. I do not adhere to rendering an exact blueprint but to a looser flow of forms, that is constantly undergoing changes, until it expresses the basic "overall message". This thinking is a part of my overall apprach with respect to both my conceptual and painting application. I hope I answered your question, Alan. And yes, I have gotten lost within my process and failed at times. Two successful figure compostion paintings that I basically painted this way is "Bus Stop" and "Torture Abu Ghraib" (see www.maxginsburg.com). As I finish more sections, block ins, development on this canvas, I will post them.