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I’ve always enjoyed seeing the painting process of other artists, so I thought I would show the various steps I’ve taken in my newest attempt.  This is something of a risk as I haven’t finished it yet, but you all can join me in my journey.  The inspiration for this painting came from 3 monarchs that were fluttering around the asters in my backyard and basking on the yellow leaves of my wild cherry.  It was mid to late October and it was a surprise to me to see 3 at once when I hadn’t seen any in a while.

Deciding on a medium was fairly easy as I have an acrylic class to teach in the winter.  After a few thumbnail sketches to determine general composition and values, I set up my paints and had some fun.  I love layering colors and being very loose with my backgrounds.  I figure if something doesn’t work…paint over it!  I thin my acrylics with water and a little glazing medium.  For this piece I started with 3 colors-Cadmium yellow medium, Cerulean blue and Quinacridone burnt scarlet.

First Layer

I needed some darks so I added Indanthrene blue mixed with the Q. burnt scarlet.

2nd layer








After intensifying the colors with more layers, I tried to tie it all together with a wash of blue over the whole thing but I didn’t have it transparent enough and lost a lot of my color.  Panic!  While it was still somewhat damp (not very long in acrylic), I frantically added my colors back and patted the whole thing with a paper towel to soften the brush strokes.  I decided to let it dry and see what happened as acrylics do tend to darken as opposed to watercolors which lighten when dry.

Finished Background

I was happy with the result and transferred my sketch on to the canvas.  I treat acrylics like gouache at this point and paint the leaves white first so they’ll stand out from the background.

First layer of white









I add a second layer of white to some of the leaves so that the foremost leaves will have the purest color and hopefully will pop from the canvas the most.

2nd layer of white

That’s where I am at the moment and now I’m inspired to get working on it again.







All images and text are the property of Karen A Johnson and are copyrighted.  Please do not reproduce without permission.

Karen A Johnson copyright 2011