I finished my newest piece, Shnoof Learns to Draw, last night and wanted to share my process.
I don’t have an exciting story for how this painting popped into my head. I’d already completed the background and was sort of staring at it to decide what I wanted to do and then the idea just sort of unfolded. I based the mouse on a face my niece does along with some features from my 18 month old.
First of all, I am TERRIBLE at translating images from my head to paper. I have to just sort of feel my way through it. For a long time I’ve been embarrassed by that, but it is what it is and I’m making efforts to improve. Don’t let fear and self-consciousness prevent you from creating! All artists struggle with something.
I currently enjoy sketching my figures into a sketchbook, cutting out the image, and then adhering it to my canvas with matte medium. This time I actually made a photocopy for my work so I could keep the original.
I didn’t photograph the process of creating my background. This particular piece was made by covering a canvas with an old sketch of mine, painting the image, then ripping off strips of the paper. I then laid down several washes to create the look I wanted for the floor and wall.
I had my baby help me with the crayon scribbles because I wanted it to look authentic. I held his hand and helped him make the recognizable shapes. He loved this part and was really upset when he had to stop. (I’d like to add a note here for artists who are moms, or even artists who have day jobs and are crazy busy and never have time to paint: I did this painting largely in 15-20 minute bursts. I often fail to create because I think I don’t have time, but by carving out tiny chunks here and there, I was able to put my vision on canvas and still have time for my other roles. When my baby got tired of playing alone and couldn’t take it anymore, I just stopped. When my older son wanted me to play Minecraft with him, I’d tell him I was going to set a 20 minute timer and then spend time with him. I hope this is an encouragement for those of you who are struggling to fit it in as well!)
I started layering paint when I had time. I tried out a new wet into wet technique using a mop brush (which is made out of goat hair and definitely smells like it). You can find the tutorial I used here. I don’t have an airbrush so I had to stop when my paint started drying. But just the small bit I did made a huge difference in my color blending!
In the name of transparency, I will show you a failed attempt at fur. I used my palette knife to hold my paint and a tiny brush to try to add fur on the stomach and muzzle. No no no no. I had to cover all that up. It did not go well.
To finalize the piece, I went over the scribbles that I wanted to stand out. Once I finished filling in my image, I went around the entire thing with a brown black outline.
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear if you try any of these techniques in your own work and tips for how you fit creativity into your days!