Collaborative Process -
The Powell's painting process is truly a collaborative partnership, with the razor edge detail in their paintings becoming a gray fuzzy area when it comes to which one of them painted what part!?! The gradual evolution of their combined skills started over 35 years ago, when they first discovered their synchronized vision.
Each painting starts with setting up and taking multiple reference photos of the subjects. They mostly choose to concentrate on close-up, "larger than life" compositions of everyday things with a bit of a nostalgic feel, i.e. candy, toys, food & cars. Sometimes using many different reference shots to make up the final composition for the painting.
Peter & Madeline are both involved in the painstaking, time consuming layout of each painting, which is completely drawn out lightly in graphite on the painting surface, either board or canvas in explicit detail. Showing the shadows and highlights, as well as the folds, crinkles, lettering and reflections. The layout process can take several days, if not weeks as they play a kind of tag team with their graphite pencils. After the painting is laid out, the actual painting process begins with the smooth layering of the base colors, which in some cases is done with an airbrush. This allows for a very "flat" surface foundation without brush strokes to interfere with the exacting fine detail that comes later. Each color is masked off separately and then any lettering or other "base" detail is painted in with fine sable brushes. Occasionally, as in a painting with ingredients on a candy wrapper, an old style architectural ruling pen is used which allows them to fill the pen well with the appropriate color of paint. With the base colors, lettering, and any other details complete, the shadows and reflections are painted in, followed lastly with the highlights.
The most time consuming and tedious work is on the paintings that have the "foil" look, such as Hershey Kisses, York Peppermint Patty's & Hershey Miniatures. These paintings have what the Powell's have come to term "THE FOIL FACTOR".
The Powell's usually have several paintings in various stages of progress in the studio at all times, and literally "trade places" moving from one painting to the next. On the larger works, they often stand shoulder to shoulder painting into the wee hours of the morning, fine tuning the detail on these complex paintings.