Today, I want to talk about my art process – the artwork’s journey from my mind to paper.
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So, without further ado, let’s get into it!
My pieces generally start with a vivid idea, which I will initially sketch. These ideas can inspired by media, personal experiences, and/or a concept I feel strongly about. Once I get that initial rough sketch onto paper, I will mull it over for a while. Then, I start to really sketch it out with more detail and desired proportions.
After I am happy with the sketch, I transfer to the canvas or paper. This can be difficult, as my sketches are small and I like to paint big! So, I will usually draw a grid and start enlarging. It can be tedious and frustrating, but it’s really helpful to have a solid base for the piece. It can be helpful to use tracing paper to test out ideas, adjustments, and sizing before fully committing to them!
Once I am content with my outlines on the canvas or page, I can finally start painting!
For watercolors, I start with light base layers and build up the colors to give dimension. For oils, I begin with a very thin underpainting – this is essentially laying down very simplified general shapes in the various values (lightness vs. darkness) of the painting. I like to use Gamsol Odorless Mineral Spirits to really thin out the oil paint to do this; it also allows the underpainting to dry very quickly so you can get on with it!
At this point, the canvas or paper looks…well, pretty unimpressive.
Then we get to the fun – and challenging – part!!
At this point, I get to really get in there with color!
For oils, I start adding values and building up the forms that I am painting. For the Lotus Temple, this meant a lot of blending really dark and intense with brighter tints. The goal was to get a really smooth transition between extreme shadows and reflective highlights, such as on the gold pillars. This takes a lot of time and adjusting, but is very exciting and fulfilling.
For watercolor, I layer colors to deepen the areas that are darker or shadowed. I might use a clean, wet brush to lift some pigment off of the page to intensify a highlight. I Again, really getting a good contrast between shadows and highlights with a smooth blend between them is usually my goal!
From here, I make adjustments until what is on the canvas is what I see in my mind’s eye. Some paintings need more adjustments than others, but it’s part of the process! If I can’t seem to get a part to look the way I want it to, I will sleep on it. Taking a break and coming back to it in natural lighting after a good rest helps me to know if I am overthinking it, or what I actually should change.
After I deem the piece “finished,” there is still work to be done. Oil paintings can take months to dry, and then are varnished (I like to use Gamblin Gamvar Gloss Varnish, or it’s matte counterpart, depending on the piece) to give definition and protection. Watercolor paintings will be dry within the day and can then have any page warping (mostly) flattened out.
I like to get my artworks professionally digitized by my printer, so that I know the prints will be an exact replica of my original painting. Typically, it is best to digitize for prints before varnishing, though that isn’t a deal breaker.
I take product photos of the original, the print, and, when possible, a photo of both of them side by side. Once I am satisfied with my product images, I upload them and activate listings!
I always print to order to minimize waste and costs. This means that when I receive an order through my site or Etsy, I immediately get the print process started with my printer. I alert her to which artwork in what size I need, and she processes it as quickly as possible. Generally, I can pick up the finished print about 2-3 business days later.
From there, I double check that the print looks consistent with the original work, package it, and ship it off!
I am sure to use a protective sleeve and acid-free tissue paper to keep your artwork protected within the document mailer, so that it is just as beautiful in your hands as is was when I shipped it!