How I Found Myself in Painting

Sometimes a painting is really easy to do and takes very little tie to make. I once completed an oil painting that I adore in less than an hour. I was in the zone and I had the colors ready and it barely took any time to complete at all.

Other times painting is really difficult and takes forever to complete. Right now I’m trying to complete a painting that my grandma commissioned but it’s taking me forever to get it done.

The featured image for this post is a picture of I Have Arrived. It’s one of my favorite paintings I have ever made. When I finished it I felt accomplished, like the painting really meant something and represented a part of me.

It was one of the paintings that took me a while to finish. The process wasn’t long because it was arduous, though. It was long because I wanted to get every detail right, and I really enjoyed doing it. I actually took photos of the painting during the process, which is something I think I should do more of to be able to look back and see where my paintings start and where they finish, and I wanted to share them.

It’s amazing to me how a painting can transform with just a few new brushstrokes of paint.

Stage One

abstract oil painting
I Have Arrived, stage 1

At first, this painting had a lot of orange. Orange is fun to make and compliments a lot of colors well. I also used a lot of red, which is something I’ve noticed I do in most of my paintings. Not sure why, I it is a semi-constant color.

There was actually a layer before this image was taken. It was all yellow and orange and drippy. I hadn’t yet added the dark reds at the bottom or the thicker sections of paint, and the total focus of the image was the strange skeleton-like-face-drip thing in the top left corner. He scared me and I liked him so I decided to leave him alone as I continued.

Stage Two

abstract expressive oil painting
I Have Arrived, stage 2

I’m relatively obsessed with the color teal, so at some point during this painting I felt it was my duty to add more. I had recently purchased the perfect shade of green to mix with phthalo blue so I really didn’t have a choice.

While I did like the orange and red motif I had going initially, I wanted something with more contrast, more diversity. Teal was the perfect fit for this position as orange and blue are complimentary colors and teal and the yellow-orange I had created were the same.

I decided to break up some of the larger chunks of color with finer lines of detail, as well as more thick paint. I want to be one of those artists who really lays it on thick like Justin Gaffrey but I’m too poor to do such a thing. So instead I save all of the dried scraps of paint from my palette and use them to build up sections of paintings. This adds interesting textures and colors and every time I’ve done it I’ve been very pleased.

(Also, sorry about the weird lighting for this photo!)

Stage Three

abstract oil painting
I Have Arrived, stage 3

At this point I was really getting into adding smaller and smaller details, as well as trying to balance out the colors. There was plenty of darkness in the deeper shades of red, but i needed more bright greens and blues.

I added different shades of teal to create a broader range of color and I extended some sections that I thought needed more notice.

The Final Stage

colorful abstract oil painting
I Have Arrived, oil on canvas

Fine tuning this painting was very fun and relaxing for me. I loved adding layer upon layer in certain spots while keeping the base coat of paint visible in others. I liked creating smooth, clean lines in some parts while having jagged and rough strokes in other places.

This painting is full of contrasts, and I love it. I think we all have many contrasting or conflicting feelings or ideas or thoughts in ourselves, and that’s why I didn’t this painting I Have Arrived. It was like I had found myself.

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