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The Trees Come Marching In, Hurrah, Hurrah…

DSCN6118 Working intensively in my studio can make me feel like I’ve been underwater for quite awhile.  When I went in, the temps outside were in the teens…today it is 53 and rainy.  Perfect!  Well.  If you like that sort of thing, which I do.

So here you can see the next step in the painting.  I begin roughing in the background, in this case, the trees and fence.  I rather liked this, but then I remembered that my client wanted the canopy of the main tree to show.  That required some finessing, to squash a tall tree into a horizontal format.  Things had to shift.


I like to stay in contact with my clients so they can offer input.  A lot of artists abhor this, but to me, if I’m not hearing from the client, then how do I know they like what they are getting?  The painting is for them, after all.


So we went back and forth a little bit, moving dogs around.  Here is the final version.  I delivered it yesterday and was absolutely bowled over by her response.  What a privilege it is to make someone happy doing something I love to do.

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Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane in the Fall Reeds

Here is the latest oil I have been working on.  I can see why people like oil, especially when you are mixing your own.  There is something so delightful to my senses in pouring out a bit of the dry pigment, adding a bit of walnut oil, and mixing away until it has the feel that I want.  Takes me back to my mudpie days!  Then I get to apply it to canvas.  You can get completely lost moving this stuff around.  But then, when you go look at all that delicate brushwork you did the day before, you discover that all the colors melted together!!!  What a shock.  Clearly there will be a learning curve here, and I won’t be able to construct a painting the way I do in acrylics.  Despite all that, I hope you enjoy my monochromatic friend here.

From time to time I am asked about my process, so I thought I’d invite you all into my studio while I work on a commission so you can see the steps I take.

Warm underpainting

Here I’ve painted a warm underpainting on the canvas.  I like to do this because it influences the tone of the painting, and ties all of the colors together as I go along.  The woman who gave me this commission had a slug of photos for me to use as reference.  This is very useful, but at this stage of the game I’m not looking at them much.

Laying in the sky

Now I’ve begun laying in the sky.  You can see how the blue and white respond to the warm underpainting.  Turns out if you do this with oils, you get mud.  Just sayin’.  I’ll be doing commissions in acrylic until I have a better handle on oils.  Or, perhaps, I will always continue to work in acrylics for some paintings.  Is that what it is like for you photographers~some cameras serve you better in some situations than others?

In the photos, the sky is a much more saturated blue but I like this softer color better.  This is how I will leave it for now, until I have the rest of the elements in place. When the trees and so on are in, that is when I look at values and make changes if need be.  I’ll be bringing in the background, so stay tuned! 🙂