My paintings and drawings use photographs as source material. Several things can be said about the photographs:
I take all the photography and print each photograph.
I use a number of tools (Photoshop, Viveza, Photomatix Pro, etc.) to alter the raw images. This gives me thorough control of the resource information.
I often use a wide variety of photographs to satisfy my needs relative to a given panel. There may be a number of prints with different value and/or color structures or focal planes. The goal is simple: accumulate sufficient information to satisfy the needs of the painting.
The paintings grow out of a somewhat complex under and overpainting process. First, I create an intial drawing to transfer the relevant information to the painting surface. I then begin the underpainting process. I use an airbrush to apply the paint. The underpainting process is divided into three parts, each determined by a specific color:
I use phthalocyanine in the first stage. While there appears to be detailed information, in fact, no imagery is rendered in this stage. Rather, I make tiny circles of approximately 1/16th of an inch, each having a specific value. At a distance these circles coalesce into what appears to be imagery.
For the second stage I use burnt siena to establish a very basic color system, separating the areas that will be cool from those that will be warm.
I use dioxazine purple in the third stage to further subdivide the color structure. This stage allows me to separate greens from blues (on the cool side) and reds from yellows (on the warm side). I also lay out black and grays at this stage.
The colors in the under and overpainting stages are transparent or translucent. The system is optically alive in that any given color is the product of many layers of various transparent colors. In a similar way, the value of a color is determined by the density of those layers. White is simply the primed canvas and light colors are light because more of the canvas is showing through the veils of paint. The finished underpainting yields a rough approximation of the final color and image structure that will become the completed painting.
When the underpainting is complete I embark on the overpainting stage. The overpainting stage is even more elaborate than the underpainting process described above. The number of layers in the overpainting stage generally range from 10 to 20. My goal is to establish the exact hue, value, and intensity of each color area without losing the optical richness that is derived from the transparent multi-layered painting system.