beginning to end

Sorry I’ve been so absent lately. I find it really difficult to focus on more than one thing these days, and what I’ve been focusing on is producing art…not so much talking about it or blogging or anything else really. The upside of that is that I’m learning a ton and having lots of fun. The downside of that is that I end up neglecting this space and every other space. (If you saw my house right now you would assume that someone broke in and ransacked the place.) To make up for this terrible neglect I am about to post something that I’ve never posted before: a complete and detailed beginning to ending process for a painting. So without further ado…

Layer 1


OK, granted this is the most horrible photo ever, but it gives you a good idea of where I began. I used acrylic inks and a spray bottle to put down the first layer of color and line. Nothing special, but I’m on my way.

Layer 2


Basically I waited for the first layer to dry and added more acrylic ink focusing on warmer colors. Much more interesting, but we’re still just in the preliminary stages. I’m not really thinking about much and I certainly don’t have an outcome in mind. Just making marks.

Layer 3


Just a few more grungy marks. Not much of a difference, but here’s a few close-ups so you can see more detail:

IMG_4127 IMG_4130 IMG_4132 IMG_4133

As you can see, I’m still just playing around with no real plan. And the next step is where it starts to get scary for me.

Layer 4


Gah! I wrecked it! (This is the voice in my brain. I do my best to just remain calm and trust the process.)

Layer 5


Shit! It’s just getting worse! (More of me ignoring my brain.)

Layer 6

IMG_4145 IMG_4144

Here’s where things start to take shape. I got the image of a little Haitian girl. First I sketched her and then I roughed her in on the painting. Up until now I’ve mostly used acrylic ink, but now I’m using heavier body paint as well. My brain is getting quieter now. Thank God. It was getting a little annoying.

Finished painting

IMG_4167IMG_4175   IMG_4178IMG_4157

The final layers were just a matter of filling in with heavy body acrylics. I used warm colors for the highlights and cooler colors for places that I wanted to recede. I love intense color. It makes me feel alive. I was up until 2:00am working on the final touches, and I have to say, I love this little beauty.

A friend saw the initial sneak peek I posted online and she commented in Haitian Kreyol: “Li bel” which means “She’s beautiful.” So that’s what I titled the piece. Li Bel. This canvas is 24×30 inches in case you’re wondering. I’ll probably have her framed and maybe see about selling her, although pieces like this are kind of hard to part with.

Hope you enjoyed this window into my process. Those middle stages where my brain is going crazy? Sometimes it helps to remember that this is a part of every painting. It helps to know that I just have to keep painting and everything will be just fine.

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Posted in art 101, art process, getting real
13 comments on “beginning to end
  1. lovingrd says:

    LOVE this. Thanks for sharing so much. And she is beautiful. 🙂

  2. Iris says:

    Your honest thought process made me laugh out loud!! Loved seeing this whole painting from the ground up, so interesting. I also love how you use colours for the shading and highlights, gives such a great effect and makes it really come alive.

    • Oh Iris, that was such a toned down version of what my brain does. It gets vicious in there sometimes. But I’ve come to think of my mind sort of like a scared little kid. A little love goes a long way but you can’t be too indulgent either. 😉

  3. Lisa says:

    I love this picture, the colors are so beautiful!

  4. Loved seeing your steps and the beautiful painting that comes out of this. It seems that a lot of us have focusing problems at this moment. Totally recognize the over active brain. My brain is always bothering me

    • Carla, yes! My brain is so skittery and judgmental. But painting is such a good practice for me to learn to let my brain do what it does and just keep doing what I’m doing. It always works out fine in the end. Thanks for your kind words. 🙂

  5. Terri, I love the end result, but also that you’ve shared your progression towards it. We all have these moments of despair (aaah, where is this going….?). I love the face you’ve created and the bold colors! Way to go!

  6. So lovely to read about your process and see your mark making. She is just beautiful!

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