This past week I finished three paintings for our living room wall. It is a mammoth-sized wall with no obstructions and extremely high ceilings. I knew whatever ultimately lived on that space needed to really ground the wall. In addition, the art that got placed there needed to work with my already established color scheme. Luckily, these are all my favorite colors, so painting something in those hues was completely natural.
I thought I would go through a bit of my process in making art for my home. I am not a trained artist, so some of my methods may not be the "right" way to do things. This is the method that has worked for me. As much as I believe in supporting artists, I know many of you cannot afford the vast sums of money that a painting this large would command. This is how I paint something this large.
The first thing I did was gather my tools. As I previously mentioned, I am not a formally trained artist. That being said I do not have a vast supply of paint brushes and the like. In fact, when I realized after getting home that I did not have a brush big enough I just used a $1 Elf powder brush for my mop brush. It was sufficient in laying down large quanities of paint for the underpainting. Here is what I used.
Three 30x40" canvas purchased at Hobby Lobby for 30% off.
One flat paintbrush
One large powder brush as my mop brush
acrylic craft paint
heavy gel medium in matte
The first thing I did was lay down an underpainting. I decided to do this first layer of paint in black, brown, peach, and white. Most of the paint was very watered down. I sort of just threw down some broad strokes. The purpose of this is to both give the final painting some depth, but also take away that scary "naked" canvas. At this point I took a step back to see what was happening. I think of this as my cloud sighting. You know how you lay back and try to find shapes in clouds? Well, same concept here. At this early stage I like to see what my lines could be and decide on a final subject. I wanted these paintings to be actual abstracts of a real thing, not just swaths of color on a canvas.
The next thing I did was begin the layers of painting. To get the colors I wanted I chose to mix most of my colors as opposed to using all the different bottles you see above. I think mixed colors have a bit more depth to them. The way I do this is by using the color wheel. Two complementary colors, when mixed together in equal parts, become brown. So if you mix them in different amounts you will get "dirtier" versions of those colors. See the photos above as an example. Red and green are complimentary colors. The paper shows that these colors blended in different amounts will give you a gradation to brown. It is a great way to get more muted colors. Red too bright? Just add in a touch of green to tone it down.
I should mention here that often you will hit a point of painting where you really dislike it. The photo above containing the paintings laying on the table was one of those moments. We concluded that each one of them had places that looked extremely amaturish. I didin't like certain colors and shapes. Never fear! Just keep working. Eventually you will get to a happy place with your painting. And you can always paint over parts you don't like.
Once I got the painting generally shaped out and dry, I mixed some gel medium to my paints. It makes the paints thicker so I can use them with a palette knife. I then scraped and swiped paint around until I liked what I saw. Ta da! painting!
I should also mention that I often "live" with a painting as-is for a while. Sometime down the road I may decide there is something I'd like to change, and that's the benefit of it being your own work. You can change it later if you so choose.
Also, I have made paintings where I just put down color in a random way on the canvas. Those can be fun too. What I like about coming up with a concrete subject matter is that it gives you a great starting place for color placement. You could paint a palm tree, and the final painting look nothing like a palm tree. The image is there to offer direction.
I hope this helps some of you who have thought about doing your own large scale artpiece. In total, I believe these three paintings cost me under $150 to make. Not too shabby for 7.5 feet of art.