This drawing shows the desired effect I wish to achieve. I like doing these little drawings when I am fleshing out a project so that I can better form my ideas prior to starting. In it you can see that I have worked out placement angles and the lighting sources. You will also note that my original drawing had the steps parallel to the base but in an effort to create a stronger artistic presence I always try to avoid squaring off my scene with the base as this just appears too formulaic when completed. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but not here.
Once assembled the groundwork can be primed for painting. I usually use pure white automotive spray primer (Dupli-color) but sometimes in an effort to better play with the transparency of oil paints I will use grey, black or even rust colored primer. In this case I will use all four primers to better indicate my highlight, shadow and reflected light sources on the base. The photo grouping below shows how I basecoated the groundwork, step-by-step.
My first step was to spray the full shadow side of the column with black primer, especially up under the top of the column. The second step is to apply Rust Red primer to the lower shadow area and marble floor where the reflected light will be prevalent. Grey primer was then applied to the sides of column, as seen in the the third, fourth and fifth photos of the series. Finally white primer is sprayed to the side that is in full sunlight. All of this spray overlaps the previous coats, playing off the flutes and other details of the column giving me visual clues as to how to apply my colors and additionally effecting the tonal qualities of the oils that will applied over the surface. I won't use this technique on the figure however, allowing the completely painted base to guide my brush while painting the Senator. Next step: prepping the figure and then on to the painting.