The process I follow when creating a work of art from conception to final brush stroke.

Not even the best artist can really say that their art just “happens”. Even if it is just a simple line drawing, for it to be created, the artist must have had some brilliant idea or spark of inspiration. Some artists may have only 2 or 3 stages of creating their art, some may have even 5 or more stages.

The art process is also not even the same for all art created by one artist, but generally artists seem so find a method/process and if it works for them, they keep following it repeatedly.

I have had to sit down and think a bit about exactly what process I follow when creating a work of art from conception to final brush stroke.

1.  Inspiration.

I find inspiration in many different places and situations. Sometimes I watch a movie and see a beautiful sunset or beach scene. It is not always possible to capture the scene I have seen in the movie to use as reference material, but I do search for and find reference material close enough to the scene that inspired me. Sometimes I need to find and combine several images and sometimes I adjust the lighting in the reference material I find to get the mood that has inspired me initially.

I might be out visiting with friends when I see someone smiling or interacting with his/her surroundings. If I happen to have a camera on hand, I snap a few images and use that as reference for a painting.

Sometimes I just want to use a specific colour in an abstract painting. I would sit down with a few pastels and quickly draw a few sketches using some complimentary colours or a few monochromatic colours until I know what works nicely.

Many times, I find inspiration from fellow artists. If I see a painting which stirred a specific emotion, I would try to capture the same feeling with my work of art.

2.  Refining the idea.

If I need to, I sit and make several quick pastel sketches to see how I could achieve the desired effect.

I work out light and shadows and decide on colour balance and where to concentrate on having most contrast.

3.  Preparation.

I go out and buy canvas or paper and any art materials I might need. Canvas supports are wedged to ensure that the canvas is nice and taught. I also prefer to lay down a base colour in acrylic for my oil paintings.

4.  Creation.

For abstract works of art this step may be very short in comparison with the previous three steps, but for detailed scenes and especially portraits, this step can be very time consuming. Especially when working in oils and doing a lot of detail, one often must wait several days between layers to achieve a proper amount of detail.

5.  Reflection.

I usually give myself a few days looking at the completed work of art. During this time, I hang the painting where I can see it through the day. Sometimes I see something that I would like to change. I would leave it for another day to allow myself to think if the change I am considering will really improve the final work. If so, I make the changes, careful not to overdo it. Mostly, I have found that if the work of art was planned thoroughly, I know when it is finished.

I often work on more than one piece at once. When a wave of inspiration hits, it is often enough to get a few works of art going. This also helps me not feeling like there is nothing for me to do while waiting for one layer of oil paint to dry.  Therefore, it often seems as though I don’t paint for long periods and then suddenly I would have a few paintings finished.


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