Finally, it’s time for painting. I don’t have much to say about my process. I keep things fairly simple. No special tricks or magic tools, just a bunch of familiar steps built over years of painting practice.
Most of my paint is Windsor and Newton Professional Acrylic. I do have a couple of tubes of Galleria (Windsor and Newton’s student range) as well as some Atelier tubes, but for the way I work, the Windsor and Newton Professional range feel the best.
For brushes I use a large, square to wash in the background, but the rest of the painting is done alternating between three differently sized round brushes. As for the actual technique, I can best describe it as layering on thin washes of colour and softly (but quickly) blending lights into darks until I get the desired gradient.
In future, I would love to video the whole process, but I don’t really have the right setup for it. For now, I can offer a photographic journey.
When I started my Alice in Wonderland painting, I had three goals in mind. I wanted it to be vibrant. I wanted it to be busy, but mostly, I wanted it to be mine. I didn’t want my painting to be another iteration of Disney’s Alice (a glorious Alice at that) and in order to steer clear of those prominent influences, I had a few choices to make:
First, I read the book. Surprisingly this was something I had never actually done before and as a writer, well… guys, this story has no beginning, middle, nor end. It is a psychedelic stream of consciousness told through a series of puns (many of which I likely missed due to time period differences and whatnot.)
But as an artist? It’s a candy-bowl full of visual delights!
The first thing I decided to do was focus on the animals. The book has A LOT of animals. If an animal exists, Alice probably had a chat with it. I considered the human characters, but ultimately decided that I wasn’t up for the challenge of trying to better Disney on those. It is close to impossible for me to think about the Queen of Hearts and NOT see a tiny lady with a giant head. Animals would also much better fit my desire for something bright and lighthearted.
I knew I wanted to have Alice in the middle with rose bushes and animals around her.
My first thumbnail had her looking timid and scared, but the Alice in the books is never frightened.
My second attempt is better, but her expression still isn’t right. She’s not scared anymore. She looks like she’s in awe of Wonderland. Which, once again, she isn’t’. Mostly Alice waltzes around Wonderland trading snarky comments with everyone she meets. I did like the positioning of this thumbnail however and used it to further plot everything else.
I tried a couple of poses with Alice before coming to the one I liked. At first, she still has too much of the awe/scared thing going.
Finally I clue in to the fact that I need her cheeky. Sassy. Shes confident and strong and none of my previous attempts were carrying that message at all. Behold, the final Alice:
I did some quick sketches to figure out my version of the Cheshire cat and some studies of a few other bits and pieces, but that was pretty much it. My preparation for Alice was a lot of thinking and three pages of scribbling.
Here are the process videos for my Buhle Painting. Still a bit skwonky and all over the place, but I am starting to feel more at home in Photoshop. Huzzah!
The first Video is the initial sketch. I took a pretty long time figuring out how to place her arms. This video is mostly me drawing arms and then erasing arms and then drawing arms and then erasing arms… you get the idea. 😛
The second starts with a few quick colour comps before diving into the final piece.
Disclaimer: Yes, I know I shouldn’t do backgrounds last. 😛