The Making of a Giant Skeleton Painting

For many days, during a stormy autumn week…

…I locked myself in my studio.

This is the progress of a large new acrylic-on-canvas painting titled ‘Thy Winter is Forever.’

Please enjoy…


It began with the background. Two coats of heavy acrylic paint. I used a wet brush to blend the colors together. Blue, green, purple, white, cream, grey, black…and more. This took about two days, and another half-day to dry.

 


Next, I began sketching, sketching, sketching. I used a black (soft-nose) colored pencil. Easy to erase. Easy to paint over. For the hands, I photographed my own fingers in various poses. In truth, this was one of my favorite parts of the process…

 


It looks like matte black paint, right? Only, it’s not. The subtle greys I added to the skeleton undertones show up better when viewed in-person. For my painter friends out there, I recommend rarely using straight black. Add a second & third color, mix well, and achieve a nice texture which black alone cannot match.


I sketched in the birds, and then painted them using the same black/grey mix as the skeleton. The wings were hard, but fun! For this entire painting, I worked right to left. Which…normally…as a predominantly right-handed artist, I’d recommend the opposite. Whatever…


 

More sketching, sketching, sketching. I paused to add the foremost tree to make sure my birds ended up in the right spot. And who doesn’t love a nice dead tree? Am I right?


Next, I went in with a few soft details on the skeleton and several background elements, including bones and distant tree limbs. Those poor birds. They’re still waiting on me…

 


Ah ha! Finally, the birds got their due. And look! Snowflakes! The birds swooping into snow was the original idea for this painting, a scene imagined by my lovely bride. Thanks, Heather!


The snow begins to settle on the branches. And the details on the skeleton begin to emerge. This is no evil creature with which we’re dealing. He’s giving winter its essence, its lifeforce. An important task, yes?


A close-up of the left side. Still a ways to go…

 


And a close-up of the right side. Such a gentle giant, Skelly is…


And finally, we arrive at the end. Tiny touches of white for the snow and the crisp winter light falling on Skelly’s bones. And most importantly, the painstaking details of the snow settled on each branch, big & small.

I hope you like it!

(To see even more pics, click the final image below.)

 


 

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