From Sketch to Painting

Yesterday when I woke up, the view outside my window was not the same color as when I went to bed. When I glanced out the window, it looked like this —

First snow on my overgrown garden. katrinaallenart.com

First snow on my overgrown garden.

I’m not quite ready to start the four to five months of winter that we typically get here (ack!), so let’s think back to a garden full of summer flowers when the view outside looked more like this —

August flowers in my garden. katrinaallenart.com

August in the garden. So many pretty flowers. Plus bonus chipmunks!

Ah, wasn’t summer nice? Especially all the flowers.

Although I called this post “From Sketch to Painting,” my painting process is not that straightforward. I don’t sketch out an idea, paint it up, and boom, then I’m done. My paintings are never planned out ahead of time. I just explore and try out different colors, shapes and patterns. (Read about How I Paint for more about my process.)

When I’m working on a painting that just needs some interesting shape added to it, my “in the creative flow mode” brain often likes to have a menu of choices to select from. I usually have a group of inspiration pages hanging above my work space.

A wall of sketches on display above my painting table. See the paintings created from them at katrinaallenart.com

A wall of sketches on display above my painting table.

If none of these are quite right, I can flip through the rest of my collection and (hopefully) find just the right thing to add. (Or at least, something to try.)

These inspiration pages are quick little sketch-like paintings of flowers, leaves, tree branches and other shapes. Sometimes I do these sketches from photos, but often I will go out and paint from life in my garden.

I find it works better to “sketch” with paint and a brush, because the thin lines of a pen or pencil sketch don’t translate that well to paint. However, painting these sketches outside involves wandering around juggling a clipboard, papers, paint and a brush so I only bring one color of paint for sketching. That’s why there are green flowers in the ones below!

I really like Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan) flowers, as you can see in the garden photo above. They are happy flowers, easy to grow and great painting subjects. Here’s a photo of some Rudbeckia Goldsturm buds before they’ve really started blooming. Rudbeckia Goldstrum plants just before blooming in my garden. See my flower paintings at katrinaallenart.com I sketched these plants, trying to capture the patterns of how the stems and leaves grow (painted from life so it doesn’t quite match the photo).

Then I used this sketch for inspiration while painting. A few of the leaves got switched to the other side.An intermediate stage of the abstract acrylic painting "Whispers of Wild Music" by Katrina Allen. See the finished work in a free print and ebook download at katrinaallenart.com.

The final painting ended up looking like this.

(By the way, did you know you can get a free downloadable print of this painting by signing up for my newsletter HERE)

Here are the steps all together. Stages of the abstract acrylic painting "Whispers of Wild Music" by Katrina Allen. Read more about her painting process at katrinaallenart.com.It’s not just the leaves and stems that were based on a sketches in this painting. The large yellow flowers are Rudbeckia blossoms from a different sketch.

Flowers blooming in the garden. Rudbeckia Goldsturm blooming in my garden. See my flower paintings at katrinaallenart.comSketched Rudbeckia blossoms and that same painting. Stages of the abstract acrylic painting "Whispers of Wild Music" by Katrina Allen. Read more about her painting process at katrinaallenart.com.I used the two largest flowers in the painting, but can you tell that I swapped them around? The sketched flowers are slightly tipped away from each other, but in the painting I wanted them to tilt towards the center.

I used the flowers from this sketch again in a different painting, only this time I changed the petals to be longer and more pointed.

Well, and I changed the flower color too, but I never worry about pesky details like realistic flower shades in my paintings. That’s why I call them abstract florals!

Do you like reading about the process of creating paintings? I wrote a whole ebook that discusses the creative process and goes step by step through a painting explaining what I did at each stage. You can download both the ebook and the painting for free as my gift for signing up for my monthly newsletter!

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