(Snake and leaves detail, from drawing for "Fall") So rather than jumping right onto canvas, I now do fairly resolved pencil drawings seperately on paper first. I have done preliminary sketches of heads, hands, and figures in my sketchbook. Then I move on to a large sheet of paper where all of my mistakes are made, erased, and fixed, until the drawing is to my satisfaction (these are the drawings you see posted here). Then I enlarge that drawing onto canvas. This way I don't have to fight the drawing so much when I approach the painting... I can focus more on color, brushwork, and painting technique. But I still make subtle changes and corrections with the drawing on the canvas as I go.
N.C. Wyeth, in his confidence, didn't seem to have much need for resolved preliminary drawings on paper. However, Rockwell executed one for nearly every painting he did, and they were nearly full-scale to the paintings. Artists have varying methods... to each his own. They're both awesome.
My finished painting of "Fall" will be a large 36 x 54 inches, oil on canvas (work in progress). It's one of the more complex and detailed paintings I've ever attempted... it includes two full figures, a big bush with more leaves than I'd ever want to count, the ground is covered with grass and leaves, and a neighborhood full of houses in the background. I'll talk more about some of the underlying meaning of the piece when I post the finished painting... but don't hold your breath, this piece will take me a while to finish!