Kaj Stenvall
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Kaj Stenvall
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It´s never too late to say never, 2009
Steps 1 - 8

Step 1/8


When I have developed an idea for a painting, I sketch it lightly on a white canvas with charcoal. After this I strengthen the lines with light brown opaque. When it's dry I remove the charcoal by wiping.

This procedure doesn't necessarily take more than a few hours but the idea development might take much more time. I consider various options and strive for some sort of insight that helps me express an abstract thought as accurately as possible.

Step 2/8

Imprimatur, the ground painting

I use oil paint thinned with turpentine to paint the base coat which already shows the intended accents of light and shadow. This shade of yellow ochre and dark ochre strives to give the finished painting a thorough warm glow and helps to lift the light. It also helps to make the shading more toned. I coat this layer of color lightly with fixative, which binds the color firmly under the coming layers of paint.

Step 3/8

The actual painting stage begins. The third stage is called paint coating layer.

For some reason I always start painting from the upper left corner and this time is no exception.

I don’t actually try to make the painting look finished at this stage, I only paint directionally. I know that I will add at least one layer of paint more. I use the base color to my advantage as much as possible.

When starting the next stage I have to consider the drying of the color so I have to finish certain stages with care.

Step 4/8

Painting the background continues

I continue painting the background and try to keep the surfaces vivid. I haven't yet made final decisions regarding light and shade so I leave that to the fine tuning. This work stage is still relatively easy and the bigger problems are still ahead.

Step 5/8

Problems start gradually appearing

The relations of different sectors, surfaces and picturesque solutions worry. I have difficulties seeing the picture as “a whole” rather than relations between different articles and surfaces.

When the picture grows and completes it should also get better. And when you are not able to see that it starts to strain your belief.

Step 6/8

The most challenging stage begins

I always paint the face last. Now I have given it a first actual coverage. I also go through the surfaces, darken the shades a bit and equalize and balance different areas.

Now begins the most difficult stage. I should be able to better the painting but the changes evoked are unpleasantly small.

I will add at least one layer more and hope of course that the painting will improve and start to reflect my own - very reasonable - expectations.

There are however lots of problem areas and dark clouds start to gather in the night sky.

Step 7/8

Small changes

I have once more gone through almost the whole picture and tried to fix and better different things by highlighting areas that have light and by adding color.

After this I mean to soften and equalize the painting with the last coverage. The changes are very small at this stage, but even more important to the painter.

The shape of the moon brings a little portion more to the metaphysical mixture which the picture is all about. One thought behind the painting is trying to rise above reality and everyday life and open a view to a new dimension.

Step 8/8

The last stage

I went through the paintings middle and lower part once more. I added thinned yellow ochre to certain parts and lightened the lower part of the wall on the right.

I also added some accents of color and light but the result didn’t change or better that much which indicates that it’s good to stop here.

There were a lot of different work stages with this painting – a few more than usually. At the last stages, when the layers of paint take at least a day to dry, I worked on another new painting which I have named When The Shit Hits My Biggest Fan…