Painting Process Start to Finish

I don’t know if I’ve ever shared the painting process of a piece from start to finish. I thought I’d outline what goes into a large commission so you can get a sense of the process. This will be a glossary overview, if you have any specific questions about the process, just comment below and I will answer right away!

This piece was a custom 7ftx4ft commission for a commercial space. The style of this piece was based on a previous work of mine from my Heal Me series. The piece was a peachy pink, white, with gold leaf lots of texture, and lots of depth.  This piece was started on unstretched canvas. Meaning I hadn’t yet stretched it to its wooden frame. I primed the canvas with gesso first. This is the unstretched piece ready for painting!

Here is a full list of materials used:

I buy Golden Brand Paint and with the exception of metallic paints I paint from primary colors and like to mix my own colors.
Big fan of this gesso.
Stretcher Bars
I buy heavy duty stretcher bars. I’d like to eventually make my own stretcher bars for a wider bar, but until I get a workshop for this I stick with the heavy duty bars.
Primed Canvas
I buy large canvas rolls, either primed or unprimed and stretch my pieces myself most of the time.
Staple Gun
Gotta have something to staple the canvas to the frame right? yes. I use this staple gun.
Tape Measure
You know the adage, “measure twice, cut once.” Sometimes I need a longer tape measure than this, but this usually will do the trick.
I have hundreds of brushes, I’d actually consider myself a hoarder, as I find them all over the house. You need all kinds of brushes for different techniques, (hence the thousands of brushes) but here are some that I like if you’re just getting started, I usually like coarse brushes.
Drop Cloth
Even though I have a million drop cloths, there are still little splatters of paint all over the floor of my studio… better than nothing though I guess.
I end up painting all over the place, on the wall, on the easel, on the floor, but I do love a heavy duty easel.

UV protective varnish protects against the fading of colors over decades. Even if exposed to harsh sunlight, UV varnish is essential for protecting the longevity of your work.


The next step after priming was adding texture. I knew I wanted this piece to be very deep and rich. I wanted there to be so many layers so that when you get up close and personal with the painting you could see the many many layers below. The first few layers were soft gels and thick swirls of maroon paint. These layers were for texture, I love it when the lumps and bumps on a piece have a distinct tone all to themselves. I use Golden Brand paints.


The next layer was to do a grey over most of the texture. I wanted the piece to have a weight to it and strength of depth. This thin layer of grey was going to give the piece more dimension.


The next step was to bring in the light colors again and start add more color for the focal point undertones. Here I’m adding layers of white, peach, and a burnt salmon color over the grey.


In order to create a shadowy effect  of layers I did another grey wash over the top, and I also started to blend the colors together.


Just a little process shot, because a lot of this piece was watching paint dry….. so much drying. so much waiting.


The next step was to add the prominent colors the peach and pink tones were next before brightening the piece.


Here is some up close detail of these layers drying. Look at that depth! Yummy!

Before I could finish the piece I knew I had to see it stretched, before I really got down to the final layers, I needed to make sure my focal point were in the right place on the canvas. So I assembled the frame. There are a lot of different stretcher bar kits out there, but the most important thing is you want one that is gallery size. That’s a 2″ thick bar, which is important for a piece of this size.


Once the frame was put together it was laid on the face down canvas and stapled. together, I used 315 staples to get this piece stretched. The whole stretching process took 4.5 hours. This is the staple gun I used. 


Yay! the piece was stretched. This is it standing up. This photo was dark at night so the colors are a bit off but having the piece stretched was a relief and I could really got to work on the final layers.


The movement of the piece was coming together, these layers are mostly a lot of blending and blending and softening.


More blending and the adding of more white.


Gold leaf was applied and this was the first rendition of the piece. below. In my mind, this piece was finished and ready to go. We just needed the client to approve it. I was invited to the space where it would be hung and determined I had some changes to make.


This is the space where this piece is going. I felt that my piece was too cool toned. I also thought that the client would ultimately not be happy with a pink piece in this space. They gave me creative license to change it, and I pivoted from the cool pinky shades to something that would “blend seamlessly into the space,” as was the goal for this piece. This room has a lot of yellows, greys and over all has a warmer shade to the room than my piece does.


With that in mind, I washed my piece several times in layers of yellow, and greyish white, trying to get it to a place where it would blend into the walls.


We brought the piece onsite for install. This is Bill, the hanging guy who did a fabulous job of hanging this piece!

Et voila! The installed piece in it’s space matching its surroundings and maintaining the depth I wanted the whole time! This whole process took about 2.5 months and countless hours. Special thanks to the Latela team for bringing me on to this project, it was such a blast working with you and I love where the piece ended up! And thank you to Bill Byrne of the Byrne Gallery for taking such care in hanging this piece. Until next time!


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  1. Beautiful work! Is the photo with the wrinkle area a texture compound or the canvas wrinkled?

    1. Author

      Hi Tara, that is a thick impasto technique designed to create deep texture.

  2. I am very new to art and painting. Can you explain the “wash” please? It is absolutely gorgeous!!

  3. I Love the piece, and in particular, really enjoyed being taken on the journey of creation. I appreciate the piece so much more. I love the way you tailored the piece to the surrounds. It made it look beautifully organic as if the piece was born there.
    Thank you for sharing

    1. Author

      Hi Majella, Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Thank you! That was the goal, we wanted the piece to feel like an organice piece of the room. I so appreciate that you took the time to understand the process of a painting. <3

  4. This is really lovely. One cannot believe that there are so many layers, Do you use Acrylic extender to be able to blend so beautifully? If this is oil, Does the gold foil adhere to the oil?

    1. Author

      Yes, I use an airbrush medium to thin my acrylic. But yes, gold leaf does adhere to oil, you would simply have to wait to apply it till the oil is fully dry.

  5. This piece is pure class! The depth of color and texture makes my heart sing! I loved the finished piece… it turned out quite differently than I envisioned..thank you so much for the step by step process used to accomplish such grand results…

    1. Author

      Hi Sharon, Thanks so much. It’s always more involved than most people realize! 🙂

  6. Beautiful paintings! Where are you based? If i send you a pic, could you do the painting? And what are roughly your prices for paintings of about 1m x 0.50m?

    1. Author

      Hi Roxana,

      I’m based in the D.C. metro area. I do not do exact replicas of paintings, mine or other artists but, I’m always happy to make something in a similar palette and custom movement. If you send me an email at [email protected]

  7. Greetings Christine, the finished piece is especially beautiful after you added the warm yellow and grey washes.
    Question: could you please explain the reason why you chose to do much of the work on the canvas prior to stretching it? Is it because of the size? I’m an artist as well (though not a “professional” one).
    Thank you for sharing your process in detail! It’s so helpful for those of us that still dream of becoming a pro!

    1. Author

      Hi Amy, Yes, the reason I did much of the work unstretched is because of the size!

  8. Hiya Christine, your painting is absolutely amazing, I have an artistic flare but not used it for a long while, I’ve always used watercolor, however saying that I’m drawn to acrylics and your painting has really inspired me to give it a go , I love your step by step and I know I will be confident to give it a go, although I’m a novice as such the size you have done that’s the size I want to do , I’ve been blown away by your Art Thankyou.

  9. Christine this article was so interesting! How kind of you to share how you create your magic on a canvas ! You are truly an amazing, and talented artist…

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