Several years back, Chris and I started trying to redecorate our house. Up until then, we'd had almost all hand-me-down furniture and just whatever was already on the walls when we rented or bought a place. As most newlyweds do, right? But we were several years into our marriage and a couple of years into our first house, and we wanted to make it feel like "ours."
So, we started with paint, both for the walls and, we thought, for art. Unfortunately, life happened, and the canvases I started way back then got shoved in the back of a closet and forgotten for several years. However, I found them back at the start of the summer, and I've been working on a couple of them whenever I had the chance these past few weeks.
Today, I want to take you through the process of "creating" these two paintings for our daughters' rooms from start to finish. This will be a bit of a lengthy post, but a big part of it will be pictures. I took photos of each painting whenever I stopped for the day, so there are several.
I started by finding a bunch of printable coloring pages and printing them out. geometric designs for the living room and these for the girls. I bought a bunch of canvases, acrylic paints, and brushes. Then I used a projector to size and position the images on the canvases, and I traced the pictures onto the canvases.
The easel I was using was kind of battered and not meant to do anything other than hold up a couple of posters that'll just be pointed to, so they ended up wonky in a few spots. I fixed them as best as I could while tracing, and as you'll see in a bit, I did a bit more as I started adding paint.
I found the canvases again along with the girls' modeling clay when we went through our closets at the beginning of the summer. (The first step in separating our girls' rooms since they decided they just had to have their own rooms a few years earlier than we'd planned.) We decided to have a family craft evening, so I got started with the butterfly painting for our youngest's room.
She loves color. The more, the better in her opinion. So, I strayed pretty far from nature when deciding on colors for the butterflies.
As you can see, correcting the oddities caused by a broken down easel started with those first bits of paint.
Because the paint didn't cover the pencil as well as I'd thought it would, I decided to try and paint the background first when I started the bird painting for the eldest's room. I got a trim brush we'd never used for the walls, poured a good amount of the background color onto my pallet, and covered the background with a thin coat in even strokes.
Considering how easily I could still see the outline and how much of a pain adding the background to the butterfly painting was, I really wished I'd thought of doing that from the start. I could tell I would need at least two if not three coats of paint to cover the lines and hide the streakiness by the end of the second day.
All I managed to do the next day was another two coats on the butterflies background and to finish all the flowers that were in the original drawing for the bird. Well, with a couple of buds I added to try and balance it out better.
More of the same with the greenery. I also added another bud because the balance still seemed off in the bird painting.
The next day I started working on covering over the lines for the butterflies. I finished adding the greenery on the bird painting. Then I tried making it look like the branches were actually attached to a plant and ended up just making it look weird.
Fixed it. Plus, more of the same.
Next, I added the highlights on the leaves. Mostly, I mixed the base great with just a touch of white. Then I used a round brush to run a light bead of paint down the middle of each leaf and used a dry, flat brush to blend it out.
I only had an hour and a half the next day I worked on them, so I just added the detailing to the bird. I started with that same blending technique for the ends of the big wing and tail feathers. Then I added some "veining" detail with a fine, round brush. Finally, I finished it off with stippling using more oval shaped dots instead of round to mimic down feathers and fine scales.
The next time, I tried adding the secondary color to the flowers in the butterfly painting using the same technique I did for the leaf highlights. I also added some shading to the leaves.
Time was running short by then, so I just added some moss/texture to the tree's bark in the bird painting using the same dark green I'd mixed up for the shading in the other painting, gray, and black. I took a fluffy, flat brush and roughed up the bristles before dipping it in the paint. Then I dabbed it on a paper towel to remove the excess before using it to smudge the "tree" with layers of color.
I used different size brushes to add detail to smaller bits. And then I used just a tad of the background color to clean up the edges a bit.
The next day I worked on the paintings, I started by adding a darker pink shading in the centers of the petals. Then I finished those off with speckles of the lighter color.
I added a bit of white to the inner petals of the flowers on the bird painting. Once again, I used the dry brush method to blend the color.
I added some final detailing for the flowers. I mixed the original purple with a bit of the burgundy to get the darker purple, and I use that to define the edges of the petals using the same dry brush technique.
I concentrated mostly on the bird painting that day. I finished the white layer. Then I added a layer of a lightened gold over that. Once that dried, I went back with the original purple and defined the edges of the petals, working in the opposite direction to create the two toned effect.
I finished off the paintings by adding a bit of veining detail to the leaves of the butterfly painting using the same dark green I used on the edges of the leaves.
I finished adding the purple back into the flowers of the bird painting. Then I used the same blend of purple and burgundy to add edging to the petals in the buds. I finished off the painting by stippling the centers of the open flowers with a darker orange-gold.
I thought about adding more shading to the leaves in the bird painting. However, considering the amount of detail in the flowers, bird, and wood, I thought it would be too much. The veining in the leaves of the butterfly painting works because there are only three flowers, and the butterflies are relatively simple despite their abundance of color.
So, that's it for these two paintings. In all, it took about eleven days of work in sessions of one to four hours each to complete them.
I still have the four paintings for the living room to complete. Let me know if you enjoyed this post and would like to see similar ones for the other paintings.