My first Death Valley National Park painting

I’ve finished the first of several paintings I’ve planned to do of my trip to Death Valley National Park last February.  I ran the Death Valley half marathon in Death Valley National Park just as the wildflower superbloom was starting, and it was a wonderful experience.  Just as the sun was rising and the runners lined up at the start line, the race director lead the crowd in singing “America the Beautiful”.

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Death Valley Superbloom, 20″ x 24″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © 2016 Kathryn Beals

You can click on the images to see detail shots from the finished painting.  I had fun working with yellow on this one:

Here’s a gif of the painting coming together.  You can watch my coffee cup moving around:

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The painting is now live in my Etsy shop as a photo print or canvas print, and up on my website.  The painting is for sale and I will be entering it in several shows this fall.

Star painting in progress: Is it finished?

This painting has been hanging on my wall in a half-finished state for quite a while, since I can’t decide what to do with it next, so I’m seeking feedback from you guys.

With most paintings, I have a natural moment where I sense that it is done, and I know I should step back before I overwork it.  It is hard to find the balance between making your work precise and polished, and keeping the life and spontaneity in the brush strokes.  I don’t have that sense with this painting yet, but sometimes it’s helpful to seek ideas from fresh eyes.

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This is the painting hanging on a wall in my back yard, so you can see it in natural light.  Overall I like the look and energy, but I’m wondering if it needs something in the foreground, or if it’s something about the colors that is not quite right.  I wanted to try a painting that mixes my two landscape styles; the more abstract, linear hills with the more realistic starry sky.

What do you think?  Should I stop here, or keep going?  Just for fun I’m trying out the poll feature in WordPress, so you can weigh in:

 

Other artists, how do you know when your painting is finished?

Camping In the Sierras, Finished Tent Painting

My husband and I love backpacking, and we have spent a lot of time camping in the Sierra mountains.  This is a painting that I made from photos after one of our week long trips.  We camped one night in the Big Five Lakes region of Sequoia National Park:

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Still, 24″x 30″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals

I took some artistic license with this painting composition, since we didn’t actually camp on this rock (we follow Leave No Trace principles and don’t set up our camp too close to water) but I wanted to have the tent reflected in the lake.  Instead, we ate breakfast here to watch the sun rise, and I knew I wanted to paint this scene when we got home.  Here we are in our dorky camping clothes standing where the tent is in the painting; you can see the same peak in the distance.

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Vancouver Island Sunset Painting

This is one of my paintings from Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  I grew up in Port Hardy, at the northwest tip of the island, which has the most amazing beaches.  Even though I have moved many times since then, the northwest coastal climate always feels most like “home” to me, and I have painted many scenes from this area.  This painting is from Tofino, a place further south down the island:

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Vancouver Island Sunset, 22″ x 28″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals

I’m calling this one a sunset, but to me it could be either the glow just before dawn or just after dusk. Here are some detail closeups with the scraggly trees on the rock against the colors of the sky:

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Tofino

I find it’s tricky to get the right combination of blues, yellows and pinks in a sunrise or sunset without it looking too bright.  A little bit of pink and purple go a long way.  I always end up starting with too much color, and then blending in some white to take it back.  Glazing medium can be really helpful for skies, because it slows the drying time of your paints and allows you to blend for longer while you’re figuring out the right balance.  Acrylic paints dry relatively fast (especially in a hot dry climate) so mixing in a few drops of glazing medium on your palette helps to buy you a bit more time.  With most of my skies, I don’t have a plan of how they will look when I start painting, I just begin with colors I like and blend directly on the canvas.

I usually do skies in one sitting, as quickly as possible, and then let the canvas dry for a few hours before doing the rest of the painting.  This is one of those paintings where I find my Sta-wet palette really helpful, because I can keep my same color mixes wet and use them later.  After painting the sky, I used the same colors (blended with black and white) to paint the water:

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One thing that helped me was to visualize the water getting lighter in shade as it gets closer to the horizon, with the lower beach being dark and the water at the horizon (farthest away from the viewer) fading to pure white:

Tofino

You can buy this painting in my Etsy shop as a digital print or canvas print.  The original painting is for sale on my website.

Starry sky painting, step by step

This is my most recent painting, another in my night sky series.   I just got a new video camera for my time-lapse paintings, and I’ll be posting the full video from this one soon.  Here’s the finished painting:

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Passage, 24″x 30″, acrylic on canvas, copyright © 2014 Kathryn Beals

This is a memory of camping in northern Alberta, Canada, one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived.  Here’s my step-by-step process below in video stills:

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I started with my large filbert brush and quickly painted on layers of blue and white in a circular pattern.  This is a mix of Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo blue and Anthraquinone blue, mixed with Titanium white and Carbon black.  I didn’t worry too much about the shape and blending at this point, I just worked to quickly get the canvas covered in color.

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Welcome to How I Paint!

Welcome!  I’m rebooting my art technique blog, How I Paint.  I’ll be posting painting tips, works in progress and videos.

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Beyond, 24″ x 30″ Acrylic on Canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals, 2014

This is one of my new paintings, which I’ll be covering in more detail soon.  While I’m getting the blog up and running, you can check out more paintings at my main site, kathrynbeals.com.  Thanks for visiting!