Pushing Up Daisies paint process

Pushing Up Daisies blog title image

La Bodega Venus Exhibition

Last month I gave a preview of what’s to come, a new painting! For March, I have a painting included in La Bodega’s Venus Exhibition, which was very exciting to be a part of last year. This year was no different.

La bodega Gallery Venus Exhibition flyer

The only theme of the show is the format of the painting, which is 11×14. Lately, I’ve been making digital sketches of skulls for Society6, but I really wanted to use a few of them for painting ideas and challenge myself to make the sketch work in a composition. Most of these I played around in photoshop and had some delightful concepts that worked in the process.

Pushing Up Daisies sketch and color scheme

Mini-review: Ampersand Waterbord panels

From there, I was set to start. I used an Ampersand Waterbord brand panel that I had forever in storage. It fit the size limitations and I was curious to see if it was better than my usual process. Waterbord panels have a special ground that is used for watercolors, gouache and other aqueous media. I figured, why not?

I don’t care much for Waterbord panels. There were few positives (really well made! Sturdy! Not bad to draw on!), but mostly learning curves and swear moments (why is this acrylic paint lifting up days after drying?!).  I managed to find a work around, but I think in the end I will happily paint on wood or paper.

process image two- laying the background

Tools of the trade

I had a lot of handy tools this time around. This helped speed up the process. You can see that I printed out my color studies. I also borrowed this flexible ruler from the husband for my curved lines, because nobody needs to make guess-work with that. Since I constantly struggle with gradients, I wanted to make sure that the background was finished before I even put the sketch on the panel.

process image three- laying the stripes and sta-wet handy palette

If there is any tool I would recommend for those that paint with acrylics, it’s a Sta-wet handy palette. My biggest issue with Acrylics and Acryla-Gouache is the fast drying time. I often mix my colors and then have to speed paint to use it up before it dries out on the palette. This palette keeps my paints preserved for weeks! It’s great not to fuss over wasted paint.

process image four- transferring the sketch using a mini projector

This is probably my new favorite tool! I used to transfer drawings with printouts and transfer paper. This is still a decent method, but I don’t have a printer, which tends to stall studio progress. I decided to invest in a mini projector. It doesn’t have high quality imagery for viewing movies, but it is great for sketching large drawings. I’ll be excited to try it out on larger paintings in the future. My only issue so far is not having a stable stand for the projector. It constantly shifted when I was working, which meant tedious adjustments afterwards.

process image five- painting the first layers of the skull and flowers

Painting the Skull

Did I mention how hard it was to paint on this panel? You can see my first layer of acryla gouache in the above image. For whatever reason, the paint kept lifting, even after a full 24 hours. I had to constantly spray fixative and use a 50-50 mix of water/matte medium to keep the layers from moving around.

process image six- the final layers of paint

Once I troubleshoot the paint problems, the process sped up. I was ready for the final details when I made a weird artistic choice late one night.

process image seven- adding details and highlights

PINK! I can’t seem to get away, I love how aggressive and feminine hot pink is.

Final Painting

It didn’t take much from this stage to get to the finished version.


So exciting! I learned a lot from this painting. I’m starting to prefer acryla gouache as my main painting medium of choice (so flexible). Look out for the Venus Exhibition. It’ll premier at the La Bodega Gallery on March 10th.


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