Behind the Scenes: Living room painting

I’ve finished two paintings this past week! Here’s one of them:


Title: I’m so bad at giving things a name. This is probably Untitled, but we’ve been calling it either the living room painting or my/Shawna’s painting. We’re original like that 😉

Size: 3′ x 3′

Medium: Acrylic and oil on canvas

When: April – June 2014

Purpose: Our living room wall needed a big piece of art and I had a huge canvas begging to be painted.

Time to complete: Lots and lots of hours and days. Oil paintings take a long time; even with an additive that makes the oil dry faster (think 1-2 days depending on humidity vs. many days/weeks), sometimes you just have to wait until the paint is dry before adding another layer. Also, fitting time to paint in my studio while babysitting has been difficult.

History: I’m not sure how long ago it was (2-3 years?), but we happened to be at Michael’s getting some frames. My wonderful husband usually goes and checks art supplies for me to see if there’s any sales, and when I was getting ready to pay, he hands me this huge canvas. I looked at him and told him that there was NO WAY we could afford this canvas (this size usually goes for upwards of $70!), but it just happened to be on clearance for $10. The store was no longer going to be carrying this size, so needed to get rid of them. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but it just had to come home with us.

The past couple years I haven’t had a lot of time to paint, so the canvas just sat there in my studio, waiting so patient, for the perfect wall space and subject to be painted on it. I just moved a drawing of mine out of the living room, so now there was a big blank wall that was in need of something. My daughter and I went on Pinterest and looked up some inspiration, and we decided a minimalist landscape would be perfect. My husband agreed, and then this painting was born!

Hanging in the living room. Hopefully replacing my college lamp this summer, eek!

Thought process: Because this is such a big canvas, I knew I’d have to do an under painting on it in acrylic first. Acrylics are cheaper and dry so much faster, so it made sense to do my first layer in that medium. Other than that, this painting was pretty straight forward: light muted blue on top, dark olive-y green on the bottom.

Problems I encountered: Not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but this painting is HUGE. It’s so big that working on my easel proved to be difficult at times. Either the top would be so high I’d have a hard time reaching it, or the bottom would be so low I felt like I’d have to kneel on the ground to paint properly.

The lighting in my studio is awful. After the second and third layers, I’d look at the painting and think it was done. Once it was dry, I’d bring it upstairs to check the colors to make sure it worked, and each time it looked too dark it took away from everything else in the living room, or it was so bright it looked like a neon sign. What I ended up doing was just hanging it in the living room and putting the last layer on it there. That proved interesting as I have rambunctious babysitting kids, so keeping them calm enough to stay away from a wet oil painting for a couple days was something I never want to go through again!

You can see in this next picture the difference in layer colors; the bright blue on top looked like the light blue I’m painting over it when it was in the basement. The light blue on the finished piece actually looks gray when it’s in the basement. I need new lighting 😦

Our first day off in two weeks = a very overdue painting party! Painting upstairs as I can't get the color right for the living room painting and we're waiting for the Fed ex guy to arrive -)
Painting with my little guy!

Favorite part: I love the various hues in the sky, but how smooth it still looks.

Sky detail

Least favorite part: One kid did get their hands on part of the bottom left corner. I’m afraid to fix it and screw it up, but it’s very noticeable to me. No one else seems to notice so I may leave it alone…

Questions on the piece: I love when people ask questions on pieces I’m working on!

How did you get the sky and grass to blend so smoothly?


What I did was painted the sky in, and painted it a little lower down than where I wanted it to be. Then I painted the grass in, and put the grass up over the sky so that way there was wet paint on wet paint. To get them really smooth and blended, I took a clean, dry, soft brush and just slowly and lightly dragged the brush back and forth, edge to edge, over the meeting point of the sky and land. I did this for each and every layer I put on; I think there are 4 or 5 layers of paintings on this canvas, including the base acrylic painting I did.

What else is going on the painting? (This was being asked as I was working on the painting)

Nothing. Originally we thought about putting a tree in as well, but we really like it simple like this. And thankfully, everyone who asked, agreed and said they loved it just like this!

Does it get frustrating having to put so many layers on a painting?

It can. I tend to be impatient, so having to redo layer after layer does get on my nerves a little bit, but at the end when I see the finished piece, I’m always glad I had to. Each layer builds off of each other, and it creates deeper, fuller color than I could have gotten from just one or even two layers.


What kind of art do you put on big empty walls?

2 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes: Living room painting

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