From Sketches to Acrylics

It’s been a long time since I have posted sketches, but I’ve been busy with a new project. I was invited to paint 8 square 2’x2′ canvases for my church’s sanctuary. Winter scenes, to be installed after Christmas. Needless to say, this has been a very big challenge, but a very enjoyable one.

Painting a series takes a bit of planning. I chose some pictures online, and evaluated them for composition, color, and theme. I also did some color studies with acrylics to determine what colors I wanted to use for the series. I chose to use ultramarine blue, cad. yellow medium, and permanent rose as the standard palette, as well as black and white. I have added burnt sienna and cobalt blue and a warmer purple later in the process. As you can see, I can mix a wide variety of colors, including neutrals, with just these few colors.

I also did a bunch of color studies to get the right purples, blues, and pinks, as well as warmer colors. For this, I chose some other primary colors too.

After colors, I did some small thumbnail value studies in pencil. I printed up some possible photos in color and in black and white to study the values. I also looked at compositions and for the first painting, did a small sample to experiment and see what I liked.

After much work, I finally faced a large, white gallery-wrapped canvas with my acrylic paints. This is the hardest part, I think–facing a large blank canvas. A plein-air painting instructor once told our class–“Make a mark, even if it’s wrong.” I have remembered his words many times and shared it with others, who also face the trepidation of starting. The beauty of acrylics is that if I mess up something, I let it dry, and paint right over it! So I dove in. Here is my first painting— birches and snow along a river…

I had the courage to keep going, so here is the second painting, a sunset scene.

My third painting presented many composition difficulties, including an obtrusive birch tree on the left side (which I removed). A challenge is to decide what the focal point is in the painting, and then to have major and minor players to help the eye move around the painting to that focal point. I’m happy with how it turned out, after much frustration.

I began this project the Monday after Thanksgiving, so am on a roll. I’m working on #5 right now. I’ll reveal it in another blog post. For fun, I sketched a couple of my acrylic paints I have been using. Doing a big painting project like this has been a nice change from sketching, but I’ll be glad to go back to it in a few weeks. Thanks for reading! Hope you are finding new artistic challenges to keep your creative juices flowing like I am!


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