I like strong design in painting, and Plain Business is all about composition. I was drawn to the stark contrast of the straight forward, no-nonsense architecture against barren foothills underscored by a rail line that seemed to emphasize it. The scene’s unique amalgam of natural and man-made elements—gridded siding, round silo, straight rail line, sharp cliffs, barren hills and lush green foreground, all capped off with an impossibly blue sky—presented a fun challenge.

I wanted to make a very accurate drawing for the silo and building, probably to pay homage to my start in architecture school so many years ago. I used an oil-based paper drawing transfer method so that I could make adjustments prior to painting. I painted each individual siding panel from 3 or 4 different pre-mixed colors. I was pleasantly surprised when this resulted in a mosaic quality that I had not anticipated.

I then painted all the elements in and came back with successive layers to sharpen the details. On the buildings, I played up the strong lighting contrasts using more pure color mixtures of two intense blues (phthalocyanine and ultramarine). For the sky, I added manganese blue (with a touch of red).