Learn from Michelle

Begin With the End in Mind

Oh my goodness, I love this!  How'd you do it?  What brushes did you use?!

It never fails...

When I post a new painting, I get multiple messages, emails, and comments inquiring exactly how I painted the image. What magic brushes did I use?  Is it oils?  Is it digital?  Did I paint by hand or was it some sort of 'one-click filter' and on and on...

If you want to create a truly unique painting, what is the best way?

Of course, you'll want to paint by hand, either digital or in oils (digital in this case) but always --

Begin with the end in mind!

I am strongly inspired by several artists and even though I'll never create the way they do/did, you can see their influence in my paintings.

The initial idea for this painting was influenced by Phillip de' Laszlo (click HERE to see a selection of his work). I love how he left portions of his canvas un-painted with only the initial toning visible.  I also enjoy the "half-painted" nature of his subjects. You can see this influence in my painting.

The other major influencer of this portrait is Stanka Kordic. (click HERE to visit Stanka's website). I love her style of disrupted realism, the way the paint creates a "haze" across her subjects, the textures in her brushstrokes... her work is absolutely sublime!  I was fortunate enough to study with her for a week in the summer of 2017.  You can see the influence of her work in this painting on the back of the subject's head. Stanka's influence helped me "lose" the edges in a unique and interesting way.

A Rough Start...

Before I ever began this painting, I had a vision in mind.  I started with a photograph of my subject which I captured during her senior portrait session...

Then I chose one of Heather the Painter's hand-painted backgrounds from her "Meet Me in the Garden" set as the base for my background colors...

Then I added one of Heather's backgrounds from her "Patinas and Acids" set to give some grit and tone to my canvas.

You'll definitely want to check out this curated set from Heather.  They have seriously rocked my painting world! Click HERE to check them out.

I stacked my image on top of Heather's background and then stacked Heather's Patina background on a solid colored background on the bottom.  I began to mask portions of the colored background and image away so that I was left with a good base to begin my Laszlo style painting from. 

Then I began to paint...

And paint...

And paint even more. Please notice that I COMPLETELY re-painted Heather's backgrounds.  This serves two purposes.  First - since Heather's brushstrokes are uniquely hers, it keeps my subject from looking like a sticker on the wall and makes the painting more cohesive.  Second, now the painting is 100% mine without the work of another artist mixed in.  Heather's backgrounds have beautiful colors and make painting my work faster and less labor intensive, but for me personally - leaving her brushstrokes is ethically questionable in a painting that has my name on it so I just don't do it!

And finally, after a few finishing touches in my best rendition of Stanka Kordic style, she was complete...

One word of caution...

Beginning with the end in mind is a really great way to have a successful painting.  However, don't be so married to your concept that you can't follow the paint.  

What does this mean?

Sometimes as I begin to paint, I realize my initial concept just isn't coming together. It is times like this when I begin to experiment and just follow the paint where it leads.  Some of my most beautiful paintings have come from chasing the paint in this way.

Don't ever be afraid to experiment!

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