New Bowen Island Painting Finished

I have a new painting finished and up in my Etsy print store:

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First Paddle, 16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © 2016 Kathryn Beals

This is a painting of my little daughter learning to paddle her own kayak in the ocean off of Bowen Island, in the Gulf islands of British Columbia.  We spent a lot of time there last summer swimming in the warm water.

Here are a few progress pics I took along the way.  The color is a little different since I was painting at night under incandescent light.

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Painting in the sky quickly with my big brush.  I used mostly Ultramarine Blue with a bit of Anthraquinone Blue and of course, Titanium White.

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Then I added the beginning of the trees and ocean, again with the big brush to keep me from getting caught up in details.  The paint was drying quickly and I finished this part in about 10 minutes, taking pictures from my Apple watch:

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Here’s one of the little tricks I learned from my portrait painting days. To save time and avoid perspective drawing errors (something I’ve never been great at) I resized my reference photo in a photo editing program, printed it out and taped it to the canvas with graphite paper underneath. Then I traced the general silhouette onto the (dry) canvas underneath as a reference.

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I taped the photo next to my working area and painted in the kayak and girl:img_8629 img_8640

Here are some detail shots from the finished painting, in proper lighting.  Pretty clouds:Version 3

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For the reflections under the kayak, I just added the colors of the kayak and her lifejacket as I was working.

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I find water reflections tricky in general and this was a good opportunity to practice.  In calm water, the reflections are always sharper than I expect them to be.  I used very stark contrast this time and I like how it came out.

The original painting is not for sale, but you can buy paper prints or canvas prints of this one in my Etsy store, which donates partial proceeds to Leave No Trace.

How to Use Photo Editing to Help You Paint Details

I’ve been working on a painting for a family member, based on this photograph I took in Oregon.

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That’s my husband and three year old son standing in front of Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach.  I made a post earlier on using masking tape to make horizon lines, and I’m picking up where I left off there to show you another one of my favorite tricks.

As a self-taught artist, most of my art education has come from doing custom paintings for clients from photographs.  This has been a fantastic way to get out of my comfort zone and discover new technical skills through trial-and-error.  Continue reading

Vancouver Island Storm Painting, With Video

This is another one of my paintings from Vancouver Island, the area where I grew up:

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

This is a scene from Chesterman Beach in Tofino, and was featured in this article from Luxury BC.   I filmed video of this one and made it into a speed painting, so you can see the whole process:

Around halfway through you can see me using masking tape to make the horizon.  For this painting I used a limited palette of mostly Carbon black, Payne’s gray and Titanium white, with some Smalt hue and Ultramarine blue to add color to the sky.

Continue reading

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.

bigfivelake Continue reading

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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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:

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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.