Blog, Painting Tutorials

Anatomy of a Painting Part 1

Anatomy of a painting part 1, work in progress by Rose Miller of

Anatomy of a painting part 1, work in progress by Rose Miller of

It’s a while since I’ve been able to get back to the easel, there’s never much time for me to paint and even less during Christmas and the beginning of the year.  This week I was grateful to get some time to start a new work and I thought I’d post up some progress shots of the way I go about making a painting. I’ll keep it straight forward and simple, and hope to inspire and share my knowledge with other budding artists out there! So here goes….

The Anatomy of a Painting Part 1

I usually work with a wooden stretcher bar sized 10′ x 12′ and cover it with Claessens oil primed linen (fine weave) using a staple gun. I find pre-stretched canvases bought from art stores don’t usually have the greatest texture and are cheaply primed. They can often be low grade canvases. I find it better to select your own canvas and wrap it yourself, especially of you are a perfectionist like I am. I like a finer weave of canvas linen as I work quite smoothly in often fine detail.

Next up I sketch up the preliminary drawing. You can do this on a paper the same size as your canvas, then transfer it to the canvas with some tracing paper. During this stage I am thinking about a story for or behind the painting, like who is the sitter, and what emotion I want to express through the painting. These details then direct my colour scheme for the work. Im in a bright colourful phase and so my recent work all reflect that feeling. I collect magazine cut outs and colour swatches that interest me, they often come in handy for colour scheme ideas. With this particular work I really wanted to use the Tiffany Blue colour, so it was fun to go through my collection of swatches to find an interesting and expressive mix.

With the colour scheme in mind I then roughly paint a thin wash over the canvas in the proposed colours. This not only gives me a chance to see if the colour scheme will work, but it also acts as a base for the next layers of paint. I find working in layers give the painting so much more visual depth and also increases the intensity of the colours. I only work in oils but this stage can also be done with acrylics (then later use oils on the next layers). The rule is oil over acrylics, never the other way around.

This is all I had time for today, hoping between playdates and all the millions of chores I complete during my days, I can get back to the next stage of work on the painting.

See you next time for Anatomy of a Painting Part 2

Painted with love,
Wolfgang and Rose


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