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