A painting start to finish

Follow along with me to see a painting from start to finish. It’s always fun to see the process and watch something come to life.

My subjects for this piece are two children bundled up in their snow gear. I like the puffy abstract shapes of the padded bodies. This is a mixed media painting taking place in a snowy scene with trees, grass, and other landscape elements abstracted to form a composition I like. This is how a typical painting of mine comes together.

abstract painting

I started with a stretched cotton canvas and a wet on wet painting method. These are some of my favorite colors to start a painting with: neon pink, magenta, and deep violet. I have found that I like formulas of certain colors from different brands the best. After adding the colors in a very wet state I follow up with a little bit of dry brushing to brighten areas.

creating collage elements
creating collage elements

When my base painting has dried I cut and arrange the paper collage pieces I want to use to support my idea. Here I chose the abstracted natural shapes of crabgrass, burnt and clear tree trunks, grass with roots, and my two human shapes. I also placed torn paper across the canvas where I wanted my skyline to be. After taping down everything I used textured silver metallic spray paint to make the shapes pop. When the spray paint was dry I carefully peeled up all my paper shapes. I also again masked the skyline and used a tooth brush to spatter the purple sky with white spatter.

painting with spray paint
painting with spray paint
pink and purple

I chose which trees to burn. I create burnt trees by covering the canvas with see through sticky contact paper. I then draw and cut out the areas I want to cover with black spray paint to look burnt. Using this method is tricky, but creates a blurred misty tree that I really like. I also went back and added some more burnt trees later with paper cut outs.

painting a burnt forest
painting a burnt forest

I sketched in the hats, jackets, gloves, and snow pants, of the figures. These details were painted with light colors of green, blue, purple and yellow opaque gouache paints. I decided to add large rocks and painted them with vermillion gouache.

choosing colors to paint with
a painting start to finish

To finish the painting I outlined the clothing with black marker, picked a title, photographed it, and wrote this post!

finishing a painting
mixed media painting

That’s that!

I don’t follow all of these steps with every painting; it depends on the subject and composition. I had snow suit bodies in mind when I started this base painting and that is not usually the case. Most of the time I start multiple base paintings not knowing what figures I’m going to use. I match those up later. Like right now I’m off to go work on three new bases with no idea what the outcome will be!