Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Painting Process for Prancing Pig :)

A few people asked me about the process I use for my acrylic paintings. I happened to take some photos when I painted the Prancing Pig. I'll walk through my steps below. I'd love to hear from you about your process if you're also an artist. Please don't be shy - leave a comment with your thoughts!

The first thing I do for nearly all my projects is to work multiple sketches. I experiment with different angles, color options, etc., until I find one I think would work on a larger, more elaborate scale. Naturally, this saves time, energy, and supplies during the brainstorming process. In this case, I drew a number of small sketches of pigs and ultimately selected this version of a pig happily prancing down a path.

After transferring a rough sketch to either canvas or board, I lay down a base coat of paint to segment the background and leave areas for things I want to work in the foreground. You can see in this photo that  there are varying levels of this process in place. Starting from the background, the sun is relatively well developed. I tend to enjoy working with texture. Here, I added the paint thickly and worked the brush to make the paint stand up on the sun. Because acrylic paint dries so quickly, I have to move fast to mix on the canvass, or do much of my mixing on my pallet. You can still see as you move into the foreground that the grass area is still in a base form, and the pig has yet to be worked. I've started with a variety of brown tones trying to make a well worn, mud path through the field using a pallet knife.

Here I've started to add some of the contrasting shadows on the horizon, and a base layer of pink for the pig.

The beauty of acrylics and their fast dry time is that I can paint in layers, as demonstrated in this photo. I've added texture to the long grass and tried to show it growing along the path. After all, it's well worn from years of prancing to and fro across the field! The grass itself is created using a variety of techniques, including a snipped fan brush to create grass blades when dabbing. The closer to the foreground, the more detail I add.

As I work the grass texture, I start adding the purple flowers, scattered in grow patterns throughout the field. I've attempted to create a sense of flower batching, as wild flowers bunch in the wild. I also added some more layers to the dirt path, including a few pebbles here and there, and some grass growing stubbornly at the center in the foreground.

Finally it's time to start on the pig. I include initial shadows and highlights that cause the pig's features to take shape. I may work a face a few times during this process to get a look or feature just the right way.

I then add additional details to nail down the more defining features.

Because (even pig's) skin has varying tones, textures, highlights and shadows, I add a few more highlights and brush angles. Depending on the desired texture, I may use a lot of paint on my brush (as I did with the sun) or just a little, like on the pig's brow. Just as I work the broader painting from back to front, I do the same with the main subject.

Finally, the finishing touches complete the project. Although not the technical artistic term, I like to think of my paintings as surreal. Vibrant colors accentuate the ordinary. Bold brush strokes for a preference for texture over gritty detail create dream worlds not found in reality.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Lovely stuff!! Thanks for sharing - always fascinating to see how other artists work. x

    1. Thanks so much for taking time to visit!

  2. Cool article Sean!

  3. Great step-by-step instruction! Beautiful work!



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