The Process Behind the Painting “Then She Said…”

I haven’t shown you a step-by-step painting process for awhile. If you’re like me, you find it fascinating to see how artists work and create their vision. The photos below were originally taken and posted on my Instagram feed as I worked on this painting over a period of a couple of weeks. I post almost daily to Instagram, so join my feed if you would like to see day-to-day works in progress in my studio!

For this painting, “Then She Said…” I first created a background by thinly applying many layers of paint using a roller, sponges and fingers. As the layers built up, areas from below shone through or didn’t get covered as thickly, resulting in a complex and interesting colour field.

After I was pleased with the background effect, I waited for the oil paint to dry. My next step was to draw my design with charcoal. A dry background was important to allow me to erase the charcoal as necessary until I achieved a satisfactory drawing. Then I overdrew the charcoal with a black oil stick to create permanent lines.

Then She Said…

I drew the design with charcoal on an interesting background, then overdrew with black oil stick.

Next, with a palette knife I began to layer a bright colour onto my image, basically colouring in the lines. This is a rather meditative stage of the painting process and I often listen to artist podcasts while doing this.

Then She Said…

Using a palette knife, I layered a bright colour over the image—in other words, I coloured in the lines!

The next steps involved painting more layers of bright, sometimes discordant colours, building up texture and interest. I like seeing bits of the lower layers winking through, giving complexity to the top layers.

Then She Said…

I layered more bright colour to build up texture and interest.

Then She Said…

Further along in the layering process I gradually approached the final vision.

Finally, the finishing touches were added. It’s amazing how sometimes just a little dab of paint here and there, a highlight, an adjustment, are what make the final painting sing.

Then She Said…

Final touches included little texture marks on the birds, highlights on leaves and pod, and overall hatch marks in the background.

View the painting on my website and see more pictures of it here!

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8 Responses to The Process Behind the Painting “Then She Said…”

  1. Rebekah February 17, 2016 at 9:24 am #

    Just the difference between the last 2 photos is striking! Love seeing the process!

    • Dorothy Siemens February 17, 2016 at 9:28 am #

      Thanks, Rebekah! Actually there’s a lot of difference between the two photos because once again I got involved in the painting and forgot to take more process photos! I’m finding that being on Instagram is helpful as I’m reminded to take more process photos to post, but I could take a few more.

  2. Tina M February 17, 2016 at 10:11 am #

    Beautiful work, Dorothy. Looks like you’re having fun creating it. Thank You for sharing your process. I appreciate it. I love your bright colors; they made me smile every time my eyes touch them. So, the key in the process is to let the underpainting dry before drawing and adding bright color paint on it. Your oil paint is so vibrant – what brand are you using?
    Thank You.

    • Dorothy Siemens February 17, 2016 at 10:16 am #

      Thank you Tina! I’m glad you’re enjoying my art. I let the underpainting dry because if I don’t the charcoal will mark permanently or else smudge if I try to remove it. I don’t want the charcoal to be part of the painting. I use a variety of oil paint brands depending on colour and cost. Right now I have a selection of Gamblin (great metallics and love the cobalts), M. Graham (good prices and some lovely colours), and Kama (same as M. Graham). I often paint right out of the tube (minimal mixing) and I think that helps to keep the colours bright and pure.

  3. Debra February 17, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    Love seeing your process -thanks for sharing !!

    • Dorothy Siemens February 17, 2016 at 11:17 am #

      You’re so welcome, Debra – my pleasure!

  4. Wendy Moore February 17, 2016 at 9:12 pm #

    And I love the thought processes too! Hearing the bits you can listen to podcasts and the bits that require full immersion. Great to see the images altogether like this Dorothy. You don’t get this effect so much on Instagram!

    • Dorothy Siemens February 18, 2016 at 9:03 am #

      Thanks for your comments, Wendy! I see what you mean about all the images together – on Instagram, fun as it is, the works in progress get posted days apart so you don’t get the same sense of continuity. I’ll keep that in mind and try to do more progress blog posts!