This week I’m sharing more about my painting process. While I’m specifically speaking about painting the palette for the Palettes of Keuka in this blog post, I follow a similar process for other projects. I’ve compiled pictures of the process and video clips from the 100 Day Project that showed more of the palette painting process into a 15 minute video below.
Last week in Part 1 of the blog I shared more about the waterfall I chose for this project and my inspiration for choosing it. If you missed it, you can read it here.
Before I start a painting, I first need to prepare the surface. For this particular project, the event organizer supplied the giant wood palette and it came with (what appeared to be) a coat of white paint already applied. Generally, anytime I work on wood surfaces I start at the raw wood state, so I did I little research before deciding whether or not I would be able to skip some steps I would normally take.
Since I wasn’t 100% sure what was used to prime it, I opted to follow my normal process to make the piece better able to stand the test of time.
I started with two layers of GAC 100 on both sides and all the edges. GAC (Golden Acrylic Colors) 100 is a polymer medium for porous surfaces. It helps to seal in the oils of the wood so they do not leak out over time and discolor the painting on the surface above. If you’ve ever had a project where you’ve painted white on raw wood and then noticed years later that it has become yellowed, it’s likely that the oils from the wood came out because there wasn’t a sufficient barrier.
The next step with the palette was applying two layers of gesso which prepares the surface by giving it texture and further helping the painting to stay on the surface and not be absorbed down into the wood. I tinted my gesso with a little blue and black acrylic paint to give myself a more neutral-valued ground to work on, and then applied it with a small roller to add a little bit of texture to the surface.
After the surface was prepped and fully dried, I started plotting out where the different features of the scene would sit on the palette. This was an important step since I was working with an irregular shaped substrate and, even though I did a few sketches beforehand, it looked different once everything was in the bigger scale. I ended up making some much needed adjustments during this phase.
Next I started blocking in the colors. For this painting I started with blocking in anywhere that would have water with a blue/brown color and places with rock, trees, and walkway areas with a mixture of brown and purple.
After, I added in layers with more of the base colors – a darker green for the trees, warm and cool colors along the walkway to differentiate sunlight and shadow.
The painting required many different layers. Here I started building up the colors of the water gradually adding a base color of a darker blue then starting to add in lighter colors into the waterfall and rapids as well as adding browns and greens into the shallow parts of the painting where the creek would be able to be seen underneath.
Little by little I built up the layers, adding more details each time. At one point I placed a piece of newsprint over the majority of the painting so that I could focus on just the part of the painting I was working on at that moment. This helped me to stay focus and not be overwhelmed with or distracted by everything that I still needed to work on. I then made sure I came back to the covered section to add in colors throughout to keep the painting cohesive.
Here is the end result of all the layers and details (I’ll put some close up detail pictures next). After the painting part of the project was completed, I then sprayed all sides with a special varnishing spray to protect it from moisture and the sun. The palette is displayed outside all summer so using something that would withstand the weather was extra important as well as providing an even finish.
Palettes of Keuka Art Tour
Escape to Paradise is on display in front of Park View Wine & Spirits in downtown Hammondsport. I would love for you to take a look if you find yourself in the area!
The Palettes of Keuka Art Tour is happening through the end of the summer in Hammondsport, New York. You can pick up a map of the palette locations at the Chamber of Commerce and enjoy the outdoor self-guided art tour throughout the town. The auction is now up and running until September 3rd! If you’re local to the area and would like to get in on the bidding (or view the other artists’ palettes), you can click the below button!