It was Christmastime, last year. My daughter and I had just visited the craft store for some supplies and decided to browse around Pier One, which just happens to be next door to the craft store. They always have such a wonderful display of ornaments and I’m always on the hunt for inspiration. That’s when my daughter saw a painting she loved and asked if I could make one for her.
Funny story actually. The employees of Pier One must be worried about the competition stealing their ideas as they were eyeballing me and my camera phone quite suspiciously, and Kristen was supposed to be my lookout. Instead she’s over at the other end of the store drooling over wall art.
This is the painting that she saw (pictured left, daughter’s cell phone) and the picture on the right is from the Pier One website. The piece is titled Cherry Blossom Wall Art and sells for $199.95. When Kristen was showing it to me, she made a point to say that she didn’t really like the stenciling in the background of the painting, so when I created my own a year later, I left that out.
So here we are, fast forward 12 months and my baby girl is moving out on her own. She’s the first of my brood to venture out, though not my oldest, he’s still living here. She and her roommates have secured an apartment 20 minutes away and I wanted to make her something special as a house warming gift.
Luck would have it that my contact at DecoArt gave me an assignment that couldn’t have had better timing. They needed a new photo/project for one of their catalog pages for their Americana paint. For the project I could only choose from the colors specified on that product page from the catalog. As soon as I saw the colors on the catalog page I knew exactly what I was going to do.
The only supplies needed for this project are a 24″x30″ canvas, a small household sponge, some matte sealer spray and the following Americana paint colors:
Traditional Raw Sienna
NOTE: Each of the following step photos can be enlarged by simply clicking on the photo.
While the canvas was drying, I dropped the cell phone picture of the Pier One painting into Photoshop Elements and added a grid (View > Grid, change grid size in the Preferences). If you don’t have Photoshop, no problem, just use a ruler. I did a quick screen capture of the grid covered photo, then opened the screen capture and printed it. Then I went over the grid lines with a black marker to make them more visible. This was just to help me gauge area while sketching out the tree onto the canvas.
For this entire process I needed a lightly damp sponge. So I kept a small tub of water and a hand towel nearby. The sponge should be barely damp. Get it wet, squeeze all the excess out, then blot it on the towel.
First I shaded around the tree using Neutral Grey. To do this, I worked in small sections. This is important since acrylic paint dries fairly quickly. First I painted around the outline of the tree, then blended it with the damp sponge by running the sponge almost to the outline and blending the paint outward.
Finally, I used small dabs of Soft Black around the corners of the canvas. In this instance, I did use a wee bit more moisture in the sponge since I was blending such a dark color. This helped with spreading it out more.
I filled in the tree using Traditional Raw Sienna. Then I used a long liner brush to add the details on the branches.
To add depth to the tree, I mixed together Dark Chocolate and Soft Black and added it over the Traditional Raw Sienna. I made sure that there was some of the base color still showing through, and I blended with the damp sponge as well. This had to sit and dry completely before the next step.
To highlight the tree, I used Cashmere Beige and blended the edges with the sponge.
Now I was ready to add the flowers, which by the way is a lot like icing a cake. It makes you smile and you know that you are not only in the final stretch, but you’re about to add a bunch of beauty to your creation. Dip the handle end of a paintbrush into Light Mocha. Small flowers can be created using just a dot and a small amount of paint, while larger flowers you’ll need more paint and you’ll “draw” them on using a circular motion. Just keep adding them until you are happy with the results.
Let everything dry really well. When the painting is completely dry, give it a nice even coat of sealer. Wait an hour or so and give it another coat. 20 minutes later, a third and final coat, just for good measure.
I hope you enjoyed this painting as much as I enjoyed creating it. My daughter was absolutely ecstatic when I gave it to her. She even tweeted this:
Aww! And I have the best daughter in the world too. :)
:) :) I love you too baby girl. I can’t believe you’re all grown up and leaving the nest! It seems like only yesterday I was cradling you in my arms and singing you goodnight. Don’t forget to come home and visit your old mom. ;-)