This will be perfect!

I’m absolutely delighted at how this painting came out, but boy, has it has been a journey!

I used an 18×24″ linen canvas I’ve had for literally years but was too afraid to paint on (it was expensive!). Instead of drawing first, I decided to try doing a freehand underpainting using umber and white and let the shapes resolve themselves. It was an interesting experience to do this with acrylics – normally their fast drying time would make this impractical, but I added a slow-drying gel to the paint and it helped a lot. Here’s how it looked after the first day;

When I returned to it the next day, I liked what I saw, but something about it just looked wrong. After much contemplation, I realised that I was straying too far towards realism, and for various reasons I try very hard not to go down that path (mostly because I tend to drive myself nuts with perfectionism). So I added the black outlines I love so much, and then it made much more sense to me;

Next I added a first pass of colours – a purple wall and a very light orange floor. It was looking great, and I looked forward to returning to it the next day.

Then my easel broke.

It wasn’t a surprise, I had literally been holding it together with friction tape for several years, but it was frustrating. I jumped online and ordered a new easel which the store shipped the same day but which ultimately took 3 days to travel the 20km from them to me (don’t get me started on their hopeless courier company).

When I paint, I’m usually best to start a painting, work on it, and finish it, without too much time to think. And I’d had plenty of time to think, and start to doubt myself. Over the coming days, that wall changed from purple to violet to cream to lilac and, ultimately, to the dark purple it is now. In the process I got rid of the small table on the right, because as my wife correctly pointed out, it was kind of distracting and made the painting look busy.

Once the dark purple wall was there, everything else started to make sense, and a couple of more days work later, the painting was finished. Almost two weeks from start to finish, but it was worth it!

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