Saturday, February 9, 2013

Florida Pines

Thinking of warmer temps...SO, thought I would repost this one! ENJOY!

A large 3' x 3' Blank Canvas - square, 1 1/2" gallery wrapped (which means finished edges, no frame necessary)
Cost: approx. $75 (I have cut frames & stretched canvas before, but for me it's just not worth my time to go through that process, so I spend a little more to have it all done & ready for me. I try to buy the canvas when it is on sale.) it is: A documented, step by step process of one of my paintings from start to finish! I don't typically let people see a work in progress for a couple of reasons: 1. They don't see what I see in my head for the finished product.  2. If they were to come into my art studio and see something in the works, they would either question it, compliment it, or not say anything and think that it was bad and I would have to explain that "It's not done yet" or "I still have more to do to it."  :)  

So, for those reasons, I thought it would be fun to document the whole process! That way, people can see (through my documentation) that the beginning looks nothing like the end, how much time is involved, and maybe learn a little something about what I do. Here goes...

I must preface this by saying that I am inspired on a daily basis by many things...could be the sky, a texture, an old door, a blade of grass...whatever!  This particular painting was inspired by a recent family vacation to Florida.  This year, we decided to drive and as we entered into Florida, I kept noticing these really unique groupings of trees.  I thought they were so beautiful because their trunks were very tall, slim and parallel to each other and the "leaves" were all in clusters at the very tops of the trees and almost spread out like clouds. I kept thinking to myself how pretty a painting of them would look but done in very rich, bright colors verses the brown and green that they were/are! I couldn't get them out of my head, so as we were having breakfast with our friend (who happens to live in Pensacola), I asked him what those trees were called.  He told me they were Florida Pines.  Now, I'm not sure if that is the official name of them or just what the locals call them, but we'll go with it! And, those "leaves" were actually pine needles (but, from a distance, you can't tell)! 

You can see a light sketch (I like to do this & stand back to make sure my composition is balanced and where I need it to be).
Layers of color come next along with turning of the canvas.  This process might take a couple of days because I put the paint 
on very thick for texture and effect. I want it to dry so that the colors don't mix and get "muddy" When I have manipulated the paints
 so that they are where I want them, I then lay the canvas down on a table for it to dry (otherwise the paint will run & my design will change). This process took about 2 hours.

I begin laying the foundation for the rest of my sky which is about 4 colors put on in layers (making sure that I don't blend too much, otherwise it would just look like a solid blue background).

More thick layers of color are added and manipulated to bring it all together. This took another 30 minutes.

 I can now add my ground and road base colors which is done just like the sky base (2-3 colors blended...but not too much). 
This took about 2 more hours.  Now, I wait for it all to dry (about a day) before I can move on to the next step.
The hubby sticks his head in my art studio and says "Oh, I like that sky." Me: "It's not done yet. That's not how it will look in the end!"

See, what I mean?!?! :) Another layer of color goes over the top (actually 2 different deep cobalt blues and a 
metallic titanium white). I like to use metallic paints for the texture & depth they create when added to flat paints. 
This took about 1 hour. I wait for it to dry & work on it later in the day.

Now, as you can see below, I got caught up in my work (which happens quite often) 
and forgot to take photos of a few steps...Oops, Sorry!!! I will explain what I did. :)

The first thing I did was start laying out my tree trunks with a sienna color. I varied the thickness and height of each tree,
 making sure to stand back from the canvas often to make sure everything was where I wanted it to be. Then, I had to 
wait for that to dry. I then added 2-3 more colors (metallics) on top of the tree trunks to create depth & dimension...then 
had to wait for it to dry. This minus the dry time took another 2 hoursThe paints I use are acrylics BECAUSE...I would 
NEVER have the patience for oils!!! I have painted with oils before and I personally don't like that medium, so I use acrylics. :)

I then start laying on color for the "pine needles" (roughly 4 colors) and I do this with sponges (dipped in a gel blending medium) 
and various brushes. Once again layering & standing back (this is such a "key" step, sometimes squinting too because if you 
don't see depth or dimension when you do that, then to need to work on your color more). This took about 1 hour.

The next layer added was fun! I put some magenta, lime green, & cobalt blue paints in ziploc baggies & snipped a tiny corner 
off with scissors, then "squiggled" my paints where I wanted them for extra texture. I then took the back (or handle) of my
 paint brush and pushed the paint around where I wanted it. This took another 30 minutes.

I then "dry brushed" (which is getting paint on your brush & rubbing out most of the paint before you apply it to your 
painting) 2-3 more colors in various directions for my land and road areas. This took 1 1/2 hours. Then I wait for it to dry, again.

Next step: Laying out my verse!

I really like the look of text in my paintings. Usually a verse or saying or meaningful word(s) just make me happy! 
I found this verse from Rachel Carson, an American writer, scientist, & ecologist that I just loved. 

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature, the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter."
- Rachel Carson

This part takes the longest: Once I have decided on a quote, I then have to decide on a font and size. I then print it off and 
decide how I want to lay it out (making it straight & evenly spaced, etc.). I tape the sections with painters tape, then trace my 
words using graphite paper to transfer to my painting. This took about 2 1/2 hours. 

I remove the paper, then paint each letter (sometimes 
doing it twice to get a good coat, so that the letters are visible from afar). This took another 2 hours. Wait for it to dry.

I then take a piece of fine grit sandpaper and sand the letters to pull through the colors underneath & to make them not 
look  so perfect. Then I take another metallic paint mixed with the gel blending medium and apply it with a sponge for another layer.
This took another 30 minutes.

Final step: Polyurethane!

Final inspections, stand back, see if anything needs attention...looks good! Sign my name & date it, then take it outside for it's initial spray coat of polyurethane (this is very important, because if you don't do a spray coat you could risk smearing your paint when you brush on the polyurethane thick coats & then your painting is ruined). Wait for it to dry (which thankfully doesn't take long), then bring the painting back inside to brush on 2-3 thick coats of polyurethane. This whole process takes about 1 1/2 hours not including "dry time". I like to leave a day between brush on coats to make sure they have cured properly.

Here it is... "Florida Pines"


Total Working Hours: 17 
(Strung out over 2 weeks. This does not include any concept time, purchasing supplies
 time, drying time, clean-up time, promotion, or any fees associated with listing & selling it) 
Material Costs: Canvas $75 plus Paints $25-$30

Yay!!! I'm always so happy when I finish one! I'm going to go hang it on a wall right now!!! ;)

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