Painting Progression Blue Bell

blue bell I thought it would be fun to show the progression of one of my paintings. Sometimes I have a plan and I know what colors I want to use and how I basically want it to turn out. Other times, like in this instance, I just go with it. I started out blocking all of the darkest dark areas. Black is too flat and one dimensional for me; I don’t use black. I just use dark colors that I mix.  For the darks in this painting I used a mix of violet and raw umber (really dark brown) Next I began filling in the rest of the space with greens and turquoises. I like that these colors cover up the canvas so I wont have any white spots showing through my painting. I also like letting the bottom layer of color show through a little on the next layer. I really like using warm and cool colors together, so I thought I could use bluish -greens, on the bottom and use oranges and corals on the top.

blue bell-2 So, in the next layer I started adding  warm colors. I added oranges to the areas that were highlighted and in some of the midrange areas. I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I like to use color, but I have found that sticking to a few colors that repeat themselves throughout the painting works better for me. If I try to use too many colors at once I usually end up with a clown cow instead of a unified piece. I like a lot of variation within a color and that is why I mix a lot of my own colors – or like in this painting, I used a cadmium orange and added reds, white, and yellow to it to give it some life.

I decided to exaggerate the cow’s natural grey color. I used a sea-foam color for her body, but it looked a little blah with the oranges, and I ended up toning them down with a cool magenta. I also used magenta in my blue bell-3shadows to lighten some of them up. If you were wondering what the Na is doing written in the corner of the painting, it is just hanging out. Sometimes when I am trying to decide what to do next I start painting random words in the background. There are all kinds of things written into my paintings!

The last thing I did was add the highlights. A lot of times I do not use straight white for the highlights; I’ll add a hint of yellow or something. But I decided I liked how the white looked on this one. The last thing I did was decide on a background color. After much deliberation I went with the greens that you could see showing underneath the cow from my base layer. I thought this painting was a fun one to talk about  because it went through a big transformation from the beginning to the end.


Blue Bell 36x38" Oil
Blue Bell 36×38″ Oil


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