I just finished this piece this past week, which was a Christmas gift for my brother and his fiancée, for Christmas last year. We were trying to decide on an image for their piece, which took a bit of time, and once they made a final decision, I got busy!
I’ll share a bit of my process, as I get a lot of questions about it. First I start with a photo, and they gave me this image, which was taken on a camping trip on the B.C. coast.
I enlarged it to size and then printed it out, traced the main features of the image onto tracing paper, then transferred it to the gesso’d canvas.
I use acrylic paint marker to do the main outlines first.
Once that’s dry, I coat the entire canvas in Napithol Crimson, which is a brilliant red. Why red? Because I leave some of it peeking out from below the layers of paint and it adds a lot of energy to the finished piece. It also adds depth to the paint on top of it and lightens/darkens colours and honestly, I just love how it looks. It adds that extra je ne sais quois to a finished piece. It also makes for interesting colour balance depending on the light around it.
Then I start working on the main focal point and adding layers of colour.
This process is probably not a traditional process, I’m self-taught and I guess my illustration background affects my process too, as I like to finish one area almost completely, and not work the entire canvas as many painters do.
Building layers of the piece from front to back.
Progress! I found that as I worked front to back, or closest to farthest, my brush strokes got looser, and more free. Colours blend into each other more and details get less obvious the farther away they are in the scene.
And the finished piece! I think it’s one of my best so far. You can see the red outlines and details peeking through, it adds some action and energy, and ties the entire piece together.
I’m learning with every piece I do to see pure colour and apply colour theory, like the hot yellows and oranges of the shore against the blue of the tent really zing! And deep emerald, bright turquoise, and lime green in the water and reflections add movement, depth, and sparkle. Knowing the theory of the colour wheel and really “seeing” what actual colours are in a scene and not assuming, like yes, a tree is mainly usually green, but within that green are shades of blue, yellow, burgundy, purple. Look at the shadows and determine what that colour actually is, it’s super interesting and artist geeky, lol. That’s where I’m grooving lately.
And by the way, I am available for commissions, wink wink nudge nudge… Christmas is coming! Please do feel very welcome to send me a note if you’re looking for a special piece and we can chat!