Acrylic painting: leaf with pebbles

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I’m not much of a painter; I mean, I’ve never been to formal lessons, I only began painting about a year ago, and I haven’t painted very many artworks in that time. So the post that follows may be totally off the mark when it comes to correct ‘technique’. But the proof is in the pudding, and I liked the final results :mrgreen:

My parents ‘commissioned’ a painting from me for their dining room, specifying only the canvas size, the Scripture verse they wanted on it and the general colour scheme they wanted it to match. The browns, greens and oranges in their dining room curtains and other decor immediately made me think of autumn (fall), so that’s where I drew my inspiration.

I knew I wanted to paint a bright autumn leaf with water and pebbles to pick up all the earthy colours in my folks’ room, though I wasn’t sure at first of what perspective would work best. After some time searching the web I found two pics of pebbles and a leaf that I composited together so that they could guide my artwork.

The two pics I smushed together to work from

Then I sketched what I saw onto the blank canvas. I’m sure that’s such an amateurish way to start – I imagine that professional painters would never stoop to marring their canvas with a pencil? – but it’s the only way I know how to get realistic results…

Anyway, here are the steps I took in pictures (which aren’t always so clear; I apologise):

Rough layout of the design sketched in pencil

Rough layout of the design sketched in pencil

Blocking in main areas of colour

Blocking in main areas of colour

Pebbles and leaf on the left, space for water and text on the right

Pebbles and leaf on the left, space for water and text on the right

An opaque blue-grey-white wash of ‘water’ on the right

Adding black shadow lines

Adding black shadow lines

Layering stronger colours in each section

Detail: White lines imply movement and sunlight on water

Detail: White lines imply movement and sunlight on water

Detail: Adding texture to the leaf and pebbles

Detail: Adding texture to the leaf and pebbles

Testing text position with printed template text

Testing text position with printed template text

The completed project

Detail: I finished the water and pebbles with a gloss varnish, but used a matt varnish on the leaf

Detail: I finished the water and pebbles with a gloss varnish, but used a matt varnish on the leaf

If you compare the final artwork to the template photos I started with, you can see a few key differences. I needed the water and pebbles on the right of my canvas to be paler and more washed out so that the text would stand out clearly against the background. I also didn’t replicate the original pebble colours or shapes exactly, though I did dab tiny white spots onto my pebbles to make them look as wet as the originals were.

I’m pretty pleased with the results, and so were my parents 🙂

What do you think?

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