Time for peek into the process of a painting! I made this one – Flower Girl – last year. {Interesting titling is not always my forté!} Some of the photos are annoyingly blurry but they still show the development of the painting. You can see how starting from a lovely messy and free base can be a fun and effective way of creating a looser painting, something I know lots of us struggle with. {I get emails about this all the time!}

First I made a lot of colourful mess – drips, active brush strokes in different directions, a bit of smudging and smearing.

first stage

Then I started to map in the general shapes and outlines of the subject. I used a reference image I found on Pinterest for this one. And I discovered that drawing with the dropper that comes with acrylic ink bottles is both fun and makes great drippy lines. Great tip for keeping things loose, because you can’t control them.

stage two

Starting to put in her face and layer in the flowers in her headdress.

stage three

At this point I started pushing back the background to allow her to stand out without being completely separate from it.

Stage four

The great thing about painting this way is you can keep adding layers of colour until you like it. Anything you add, even if it doesn’t ‘make sense’ or is jarring colour wise, becomes part of the interestingness of the final painting. I find this particularly useful for faces and other things I’m less confident about painting.

stage five

I love to scratch into the wet paint – the lines reveal the colours beneath and it just makes things more exciting to look at, I think.

stage six

To finish her off I went back in with some oil pastels to highlight and add rough definition to a few areas. She came out pretty well in the end, in spite of {or perhaps because of} some struggles I had with her face and expression.

flower girl // tara leaver

Flower Girl // mixed media on paper // Tara Leaver