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.
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.
I buy large canvas rolls, either primed or unprimed and stretch my pieces myself most of the time.
Gotta have something to staple the canvas to the frame right? yes. I use this staple gun.
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.
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!
This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.