To begin a new painting I always start by selecting the colors. Then, I think about tools and methods and get started. It’s always fun. Once in a while I like that first layer so much, I consider stopping right there.
Encountering the Finish at the Beginning
With my last series of paintings, Forest Dance, I had a difficult time adding anything else to the first layer. There was blending of colors, texture from my palette knife and a pleasing design created from the strokes. What else did it need? I waited and waited for ideas to come to me about improving what I had.
Finally, after a few days, I decided to add some details with a bold white accent. I went on from there to add different accents and details to each of those four paintings. (See them here.) Let’s see how this new painting is going after that initial beginning.
Red, Orange and Yellow Need Shine?
Since the colors were bright and blended nicely with some texture showing, too, I decided that some shiny pearlescent paints might be just the thing to add some details. I tried bronze, golds, and some coppers. When I finished, all I had was shine, but not much improvement in the painting. Oops. (I didn’t take a shot of this edition. Guess I already knew it wasn’t going to stay that way long.)
What about some more orange? I would use it to tone down the shiny. And I did. Here you can see how that came out.
Back to the Red Painting
What a fun week, almost starting over with lots of red, then trying different things almost daily. I didn’t document them all, but I did catch a few different steps. Here you’ll see the purple I added to the pearlescent rose. After that was some coral around that purple-pink area to tie it to the red-orange areas. And finally I mixed up some medium pearlescent orange and applied it with a palette knife over the red curvy strokes on the right.
Adding purple to pearlescent rose.
Adding coral to connect the purple-rose to the red and orange.
And, it’s a wrap!!
And, it finally told me it was complete. The red painting embellished with purple, pink, coral, and pearlescent orange makes a bigger splash now than that first layer I loved at the beginning.
I had lots of fun after I recovered from the second layer. My collection of pearlescent paints looked like a good idea, but I discovered it was just too much. And, I saw that as soon as I completed the last color – on top of all the other layers, that those underneath metallics made this painting fantastic.
Here it is. It’s now on my Art Gallery store. I named it “Red on Holiday.” Click on the painting photo to see more final images in the store.
Please feel free to give me your opinion of what I did and how it came out in the comments at the bottom of this page. Thanks for reading.
A few months ago I began four small paintings intending to try a technique and a set of colors on the set. And I did just that. I have evidence.
Forest Dance 12″ x 12″ abstracts phase 1 in first studio.
Then Reality entered the picture. Rent increases changed my attitude about renting, so along with my son, we bought a house. All this reality took about a month. The month was Not filled with periods of painting, but tiny stolen snippets.
My next step with these “Forest Dance” paintings was complicated by my thinking about houses, prices, locations, studios out of bedrooms or great rooms. However, I finally decided my richly colored and textured canvases and one art board needed some sparkle. But I had to wait to do that until I could find them in the moving chaos.
New Home, New Studio, Same old SallyE
There is little left of the richly colored palette knife work, but there is definitely sparkle, all caused by my big move. Or was it?
It is several months later. I am now located in the new home, new studio, same art table and materials where I finished the four paintings with my usual attitude of having fun and putting that into each painting using some contrasting and brighter colors.
Might these paintings have been different if I had remained at my original home? I know I liked them just as they were, and I considered calling them complete. Would I have added that movement and sparkle in those paintings without this move?
Oh yea, I realize. I always want my paintings to have vitality, fun, cheer, bright colors, texture, movement. And, when I paint, I am a happy person giving those emotions and ideas to my paintings – translated: Vitality comes out of me into the paintings.
Hope you like! Please let me know in the comments, below.
Forest Dance Series 18×18″
Forest Dance Series 12×12″ C
Forest Dance Series 12×12″ A
Forest Dance Series 12×12″ B
New home for Forest Dance set, along with Sea Surges 24″ x 18″ canvas panel.
When I need inspiration or tips on a painting process I’m trying to do, I watch other artists paint on YouTube. It really helps me.
I admire these artists’ ability to record their every movement. I envy them their storage space needed to do video after video, plus the ability and time to get the videos edited and uploaded.
I have done step-by-step photos, though. Easy to put into a post, but difficult to remember to take each photo along the way. Here’s an example.
So I’m not Katharine Hepburn or Cecil B. DeMille!
I’m not so blessed with either showmanship or video storage space or time to edit. I found another way to record what I’m painting without recording every second, and that doesn’t take a lot of storage space or editing. It’s a little app called O-Snap. (Link to App Store.)
I’m excited about it right now just from the description of what it will do. It takes time lapse snapshots of whatever you put in front of your iPhone or iPad camera. Then it helps you edit and make a slide show or video. Sounds good, I think.
Lights, Camera, Action, or Let’s Give it a Try
I decided to set up my photo shoot lights and my tripod to get my positioning right. I tried one light on a stand at about 5-6 feet and about 4 feet from where I’m working. The tripod is next to it, but I couldn’t get it high enough to tilt it down on the work. My solution was to shorten the tripod all the way and set it on the table. I’m not crazy about this because it’s the same table I’m working on. The table is pretty stable, so I think I’m OK.
My next idea was to try a short video. I did three of them before I got the angle of the camera right. All ready to go.
In this trial video I decided my space was more vertical from the angle I’m shooting, so I turned the camera into that tall position. Much to my surprise, the web wants it to be horizontal. I didn’t even have a cover thumbnail image that would work. I learned a lot about what not to do, but the next one should be spectacular, right?
Trying to Forgetaboutit!
Now I have to get over my stage fright. I don’t want to be watched while I’m painting. But I want the final result of having the process of making a painting recorded. I’ll have to bite the bullet, but I haven’t found the right painting or the right day yet. But I will. I’m working on it.
If you were looking for an example of how O-Snap works here, I’m sorry. Soon. I promise. All I have so far is my “pretend painting” video to show what I’ve accomplished so far. One day soon I’ll get the scene set and my head turned off to the filming. I just hope the painting turns out well, too.
[Here is the Post on the O-Snap video I finally recorded.]
I’d love it if you would give me your opinions about filming artists at work in the comment form below. It would be pretty helpful at this point, and I’d really appreciate your thoughts and tips.
Have you ever seen a tiny abstract painting? I had my doubts that they even existed when I started on my journey into abstract painting. Nevertheless, I bought some small artist paper to give it a whirl. Here’s the story…
Picture me at my desk, which is now covered with a plastic sheet. I’m selecting a color of paint, a paintbrush and that tiny 5x7″ paper. I spread that color on here and there, then reach for another color. And so it went until I decided it was finished. That little painting didn’t take very long to finish. Acrylic paint dries quickly and I also used a hair dryer to hurry things along.
Here it is ————–>
Was it any good?
What do you think?
By the way, can you grasp how small it is?
Next Step: Practice, practice, critique those tiny abstracts
I started another right away, the same method, different colors, different design. And, as all artists do, I decided I needed more art stuff – paints, brushes, different papers, tools, sculpting media, and even paper, stamps, beads, fabric, printed papers, pencils, and marking pens.
Here are a few more of my first tiny paintings. I was amazed at all the different directions I could go in the abstract realm. I think tiny is a fine piece of art, but I need more of them to do the job of decorating my walls.
Each of these three is 5″ x 7″ acrylic on heavy artist paper. Still decorative and should brighten up some cozy space, right?
Next, find new painting materials and surfaces.
Using the same method of learning, with each new size I started on paper, then graduated to canvas panels, then canvas, size by size. I was not too confident at the beginning my art journey, consequently my sizes increased – as I thought they must – by small increments.
Sometimes I tried new materials or methods I had seen other artists use, while other times I varied just paint – thick and thin – and various tools – palette knife, brushes of all kinds, sponges, stencils, and stamps.
My second size group was 9x12″ and some smaller sized sets. By this size painting I was having a blast doing a couple of paintings a day, almost every day. One problem I’m still having is portraying their relative size, their scale, in my photos. See what you think with this next sampling.
Landmarks by the River
Time to take a closer look and all the abstract paintings I’m producing
Am I getting better or just bigger, I ask myself. I’m hoping both. I’m finding each new size is a challenge. It’s not just a matter of adding more paint, it’s a scale of design I need to grasp.
It seems that everyone believes I need to do large paintings. I’m still trying to decide how big is big, and is it really necessary?
I became very comfortable with these and the next sizes (11x14″- 12x12″- bigger sets), and enjoyed all the papers and canvases and boards I used. Putting lots of paint on paper, however, no matter how ready for acrylics or water the paper claimed to be, produced warped and bent and curled results. I swore off paper if I planned lots of water or lots of paint. Canvas panels became my new favorite.
Here are a couple of my canvas panel favs.
Blue Energy #1
Refining my Painting Surfaces
One surface that I discovered in a set of 4 was MDF-like wood panels with a finished painting surface. This was even better than the canvas panel for staying flat in the face of lots of water and paint. There is a big difference between painting on a canvas texture and painting on slick wood, however. Sometimes I like one, and sometimes the other.
Here are some sets of paintings on art board rather that canvas panels. These are actually smaller individually than my original tiny paintings, but grouped together they are just very narrow in one direction and very wide in the other. Fun!
I finally move up to bigger than small abstracts.
Since I was getting pretty comfortable with these sizes of paintings, I thought it must be time to try larger again. I moved up to 18″x 24″ in canvas panels, art board, and eventually canvases.
This was a bigger stretch than I had imagined. The paint dried before I reached the other side of the canvas. I had trouble making the design scale to this larger area.
This has been my biggest challenge so far. I’ve redone – completely – three paintings in this size and redone parts of two others of the eight I’ve done so far. Now I’m finally having success.
I have new tools, slow-drying paint, and a larger movement of my paintbrush. I’m also developing a preference for the palette knife and thick paints. Here are a few of my newest.
This journey will continue. Who knows how big my final canvases will be. I’ll make sure you come along for the ride.
–>I’d love your comments on my journey, big abstracts vs small abstracts, and any of the paintings above. Thanks for reading!
Most of these paintings and all of my others may be seen my website gallery or
at these additional galleries.
ART FINDER: http://ArtFinder.com/ArtistSallyE
“Painting, stopping to snap, then painting again is not the easiest thing to do,” says Artist SallyE as she learns the “paint-stop-paint” timing in order to record steps to her final abstract paintings.
Sally is interrupting her creative process every time she stops to record an in-progress painting. Video might be easier, but “I always feel like someone is watching over my shoulder,” she adds.
Let’s go on a trip through the process with the set of paintings shown above, now entitled “Royal Wine,” a quartet of 4″ x 4″ gesso board abstract paintings. In this set the design carries over between the boards making a cohesive design 16″ wide. Still a small abstract set of paintings, ready for a narrow wall, leaning on the wall above a chest, desk or table. Available now at Etsy.
To begin, I clear my table of extra things that have made there way here, grab my Samsung Notepad (camera), and after giving my new project a color palette, I get started with the painting. I’ve decided to do a neutral background, but with a little movement. First brown, then some interesting splashes of light gray.
I’ve discovered it’s easier to take the photos after I wash up the brush from one color to another. I’m still thinking about what comes next, but I can still take a few photos without loosing those thoughts entirely.
Royal Wine Quartet Abstract Paintings - STEP 2
Next step: Deep foliage green. Slashes of deep color setting up for future grape colored formations later. Lots of fun doing those slashes, but quick to do. Wash up the brush and set up for another photo. Here you go…
Royal Wine Quartet, Abstract Paintings – STEP 3
Step 3 is a highlight and background for the large round wine colored shapes coming next. I sponged it on with textured sponge. It still doesn’t look like much, but I have a vision. Stop. Take photo!
Royal Wine Quartet Abstract Paintings - STEP 4
Finally, the wine colored shapes, both large and small. Now an exciting painting is developing. I’m liking this. Needs more detail and excitement. Stop. Take photo. (This one was hard to remember to do because I saw the wine shapes and was inspired to go on to the next step. Only washing the brush and stamp made me remember to shoot the photo.)
Royal Wine Quartet Abstract Paintings - STEP 5
Step 5 had me going back for some more foliage green. The plan was to give the wine colored shapes some depth with green front and back. I like the effect, do you?
Royal Wine Quartet Abstract Paintings - STEP 6
Step 6 is my suggestion of a grape vine trellis as well as some more layer adding depth plus connection between each board. Fun. Exciting. Now I can do all the photos I want. Here’s the final step.
This time I saved each step in a photo (or two or three). My paintings go so fast when I’m feeling the next steps that stopping to take photos is very jarring. Sometimes I need to start again another time it interrupts my ideas so much. But I like to catch each step. They never really show completely in the final painting. This is the only way to show you – and me – how it was done.
The final edition of this quartet of paintings is a nice combination of colors on a finished composition of both excitement and pleasure. Hope you like it.
Any comments would be appreciated.
Ideas for comments:
How you remember to photograph your steps when in a creative mood.
What colors you might have used rather than what I chose.
Whether you like the tiny sets of paintings I do so much.
Thanks for reading!
Adding to my “Spirits” series of diptych small abstract paintings, this set is an exciting splash of color that didn’t end up as I had envisioned. Let me show you how the paintings progressed.
=> See first step-by-step story of the series, “Spring Spirits” small abstract painting diptych, here.
I had decided on an autumn color palette of oranges and reds and a format placing the long end of one canvas to the short end of the other canvas. Unusual, but fun.
STEP 1: Diptych Canvas’ Background, Texture
From my collected acrylics color palette I selected a peachy color for the two canvas’ background painted over the acrylic gel texturing I had applied across the center of both canvas panels. Here’s how that looked.
=> Other small abstracts background beginnings.
The diptych paintings now have lots of nice texture and not much color. What’s next?
STEP 2: Autumn Oranges Color Scheme
Next step was to add some color to the canvases. I started with a redish and a yellowish orange, following the textured areas. The shape of the abstract design has taken on a criss-cross look. Here’s the result.
STEP 3: Abstract Painting Pizazz
To add some pizazz to this diptych painting I thought I’d highlight edges of the texture with some bronzy metallic paint. Since this effect is difficult to photograph, I thought a closer view might show the reflection of the metallic acrylic. Here’s a close up.
This small diptych is taking on some color and shine, but I want some red paint on those little canvases.
STEP 4: More Autumn Color – Reds
I have three different red acrylic paints – hot pinkish, burgundy, and two real reds – one dark and one lighter. Once I got going, the whole thing was red without much of the orange remaining. You can see a little of the orange paint around the edges. (This diptych progress picture is the only remaining evidence.)
STEP 5: Bring Back the Orange!
So I thought about it and decided this diptych painting needs the orange. And, while I was at it, I decided the burgundy was a little uneven between the two panels.
Take a look at the change! What a difference. The burgundy is more purple now, spans both canvas panels, and there is a bit of metallic rose in there, too.
What do you think of the final diptych? I think I succeeded in giving this set of paintings an autumn look. Maybe those shapes are piles of leaves blowing around?
It was fun putting on the red acrylic paint, especially. The texture made applying one color over the other more complete than I had intended. The red paints were not opaque, but the acrylic texturing gel ate it up. Since red is my favorite color, I was not disappointed in the final look.
I would love to hear what you think of my “Autumn Spirits” diptych. Any suggestions for more “Spirits” series abstract paintings? I have two different color schemes so far. I need a winter and a summer set next. I have panels ready to paint. Need palettes. More coming soon.
=> To see the final edition of “Autumn Spirits” diptych in more detail, check out the Art Gallery: “Autumn Spirits” Diptych