Start To Finish – Introduction & Verse – Mixed Media Painting Walkthrough

Start To Finish is an ongoing series in which I share the progress on a painting from start to finish and I tell you a bit about my process and the different steps. Click here to view all posts in this series.

I was commissioned recently to create a painting in my whimsical style and I thought it’d be fun to show you all how this painting evolved and give you a peek into my process!

Introduction & Verse - painting walkthrough by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

This is a 16×16″ (approx 40x40cm) wooden panel with 5cm deep sides. It was lovely working on a professional artist grade panel like this. I knew I wanted to leave the sides unpainted so I completely covered them in low tack tape to protect them. For this first layer I adhered music paper, tissue paper (Tim Holtz) and napkins with gel matte medium.

Introduction & Verse - painting walkthrough by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

I added some heavy body white acrylics and fluorescent ink.

Introduction & Verse - painting walkthrough by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

More colours of fluorescent ink, dripping & splattering. At this point I hadn’t decided yet on a right way up and I turned the painting around many times while working. I dried the paint thoroughly in between layers to ensure the brightness of the colours.

Introduction & Verse - painting walkthrough by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

I went in with paints, mostly Golden fluid acrylics applied with my fingers.

Introduction & Verse - painting walkthrough by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

I wanted to paint a river, which started out as black handprints and then painted over thickly with heavy body acrylics applied with a palette knife. I also sketched the first outline for the face with a black Stabilo All pencil.

Introduction & Verse - painting walkthrough by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

In this step I activated the pencil. I also decided I really didn’t like the thickly applied paint from the river nor the colour, so I wiped a lot of it off and applied blues and whites with a brush.

Introduction & Verse - painting walkthrough by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

First layer of skintone and I decided to push the background back a little bit by adding neutral colours.

Introduction & Verse - painting walkthrough by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

Added deeper shading to the face and brought back some drips over the top of the right side to integrate the ‘river’ more into the painting.

Introduction & Verse - painting walkthrough by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

Deeper shading still by adding dark blues.

Introduction & Verse - painting walkthrough by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

Folded a boat out of music paper and distressed it with a stamp pad (Tim Holtz Vintage Photo). The sail was created by applying modeling paste.

Introduction & Verse - painting walkthrough by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

Added music notes to the hair and grunged up the edges by glazing with brown paint.

Here she is the finished painting, ‘Introduction & Verse’ mixed media on 16×16″ wood panel

Introduction & Verse - painting walkthrough by Iris Fritschi-Cussens

In the final steps I brought more even planes of colour into the background to tie it all together. I also added white so the main subjects (girl, river & boat) stood out more against the background.

Start To Finish – Raven – Mixed Media Painting Walkthrough

Start To Finish is an ongoing series in which I share the progress on a painting from start to finish and I tell you a bit about my process and the different steps. Click here to view all posts in this series.

I’ve seen birds as a theme in a lot of paintings recently, and it inspired me to want to incorporate birds in my own paintings.

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I started out by playing on a bunch of canvas boards. Planning to make a cohesive series with a similar starting point, but each painting still being individual and different. I selected an analogous colour scheme (colours that are adjacent to each other on the colour wheel) and just played around. I used a sponge brush, stencils, sprays, drips and splatters.

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As usual I start by sketching with my Stabilo All pencil. Each painting in the series will have the silhouette of a bird. This one is a raven.

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Using titan buff, Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold, magenta and white I put in rough shading.

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By using blues in the darker areas of the face I deepen the shading. Mixing in white/titan buff for the highlights makes certain elements come forward. I used a fineline applicator bottle to create the textured hair.

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Here she is finished along with her sister ‘Blackbird’.

Start To Finish – Let Me Hold You – Mixed Media Painting Walkthrough

Start To Finish is an ongoing series in which I share the progress on a painting from start to finish and I tell you what I did in each step. Please drop me a line or a comment if you decide to follow along and don’t mind sharing, as I’d love to see! Click here to view all posts in this series.

I’ve joined a group of artists who challenge each other to incorporate certain subjects in their paintings. A new challenge is set up every couple of weeks. It’s so much fun and I can feel it’s pushing me beyond my comfort zones and getting me to take my art further. The first challenge was ‘deer’ and you can see the step-by-step result below. I’ve also created a crow painting and am currently working on one with a fox. If this sounds interesting to you and you’d like to join too send me a private message on Facebook.

Let Me Hold You | mixed media painting | iris-impressions.com

I’m working on canvas board. For the background I sprayed the whole canvas with water and then dropped high flow acrylics and acrylic ink on top. I let it swirl and merge into each other, but not too much. I then let the canvas dry for 24 hours. The sketch was done with a Stabilo All pencil and then activated with a water brush. To avoid reactivating the pencil on subsequent layers I sprayed it with a matte varnish.

Let Me Hold You | mixed media painting | iris-impressions.com

I used heavy body acrylic paint for the shading of the face. I keep building up the layers until I’m satisfied.

Let Me Hold You | mixed media painting | iris-impressions.com

I completed the sketch and added the deer. I used the same process as before, activating the pencil and then using spray varnish to set the pencil.

Let Me Hold You | mixed media painting | iris-impressions.com

The deer was also painted with heavy body acrylics including gold paint which looks awesome in real life.

Let Me Hold You | mixed media painting | iris-impressions.com

I added finishing touches of turquoise paint splatters, bird stamps in the hair and handwritten text on her shoulder.

Start To Finish – Blood Elf Mage Fan Art – Art Journal Page Walkthrough

Start To Finish is an ongoing series in which I share the progress on a painting from start to finish and I tell you what I did in each step. Please drop me a line or a comment if you decide to follow along and don’t mind sharing, as I’d love to see! Click here to view all posts in this series.

You might not know this about me but for years I was an avid World of Warcraft player (and a Warcraft player before that.. I actually started with the original Wacraft back in the 90s). These days I don’t play anymore due to time constraints. I do miss it a lot though so I content myself with listening to the soundtracks and doing a bit of fan art.

I mostly used to play Alliance although when blood elves became available to play I did level both a priest and a paladin. This painting is of a blood elf mage, inspired by one of the TCG cards.

Blood Elf Mage World of Warcraft Fan Art | Mixed Media Painting Stage 1 | iris-impressions.com

I’m working in my Strathmore mixed media journal which is fast becoming my favourite at the moment. I started by brayering two different colours blue over the spread. I then added some black to the edges and spots of pink in certain places. I’m using a combination of Golden heavy body and Americana craft paint. My cat decided that she needed to get in on the action here.

Blood Elf Mage World of Warcraft Fan Art | Mixed Media Painting Stage 2 | iris-impressions.com

I used a white Stabilo All pencil for the initial sketch. When working on top of acrylics the white pencil can be worked into the painting, or you can erase it or activate with some water and wipe off. This makes it very forgiving and flexible to work with.

I went in with an initial layer of colour on the skin in tones of blue. I used a dark blue and white gesso. I always planned to add a skintone later but I actually really liked this effect! I might do a painting at another point that uses shading in blues. Working in a monochromatic colour scheme is actually really helpful to practice shading and see whether you’re getting it right.

Blood Elf Mage World of Warcraft Fan Art | Mixed Media Painting Stage 3 | iris-impressions.com

Using the blue tones on the skin as a guide I started putting in skintones with acrylic paint. It was important to me to pay close attention to the shading and make it look semi realistic.

Blood Elf Mage World of Warcraft Fan Art | Mixed Media Painting Stage 4 | iris-impressions.com

Eek, hands! Hands are difficult, but I allowed myself to just keep it simple and not obsess over them. Simple shading gives you the idea that they are hands, but the attention is drawn to the face & dress.

For the dress I started out with a first layer of blue and then I mixed several dark purples on top. It’s a good idea to use subtly different colours and work with highlights and shading on clothes as well as the face to give that sense of depth and interest.

When you’re in the final finishing steps of a painting it can be really helpful to take a picture. Sometimes certain mistakes are really obvious on a picture while you don’t see them when you look at the original.

Start To Finish – Rabbit Wants To Be A Cat – Art Journal Page Walkthrough

Start To Finish is an ongoing series in which I share the progress on a painting from start to finish and I tell you what I did in each step. Please drop me a line or a comment if you decide to follow along and don’t mind sharing, as I’d love to see! Click here to view all posts in this series.

I haven’t done one of these in a while, as usually I forget to take pictures while I’m working (it kind of interrupts the flow), but I worked on this spread for a few nights in a row which meant that I took a picture at the end of each session. Keep reading to find out a bit more about the techniques & supplies I use and my thinking process when I’m art journaling.

This spread started when Jupiter, my 4-year-old, told me a story one evening about his stuffed animals and said “Rabbit is sad because she wants to be a cat, but mouse says she can’t.” I think this appealed to my imagination from the point of view of discovering one’s own identity and the struggle one might experience in a society that often tells us we can’t be ourselves if that doesn’t fit within the norm. Yes, I’m sure that’s not what my 4-year-old meant lol, but that’s the story that evolved from it in my mind.

New sketch inspired by a story Jupiter told me about a rabbit and a mouse. #artjournal #sketch #portrait #whimsical #irisimpressionsart

This is in my Strathmore Mixed Media journal. I did the initial sketch with my Graphgear 2B mechanical pencil. I did lots of erasing and making sure I was really satisfied with the sketch. I’m practising 3/4 portraits and trying to get my faces to be non-wonky.

First steps with colour. #mixedmedia #artjournal #strathmore #irisimpressionsart

There are two approaches I take, either I do a background first and then work on top to add the featured elements (like a face). When I do that I usually work quick and imperfectly. The other way which you see here is where I sketch first and work on the face in detail, before creating a background around it.

I find shading a face very meditative. On this face I started with a layer of Neocolor II watersoluble crayons. I don’t press hard, but I do add a lot of colour. I then activate the crayons with diluted gesso. I keep adding more Neocolor II on top, making sure the previous layer is dry (if you don’t wait you might rub off the previous layers). As I get more towards the final layers I use water to activate rather than gesso.

A bit more progress on this one. Going through an ugly disjointed phase in my opinion lol, but it'll get better. I usually rush through paintings, doing stuff in less than 1 hour. But with this one I'm taking my time. I think this is my third evening working on it and it'll probably be another one or two sessions before it is done. Feeling excited about this painting and connected. #mixedmedia #artjournal #visualjournal #irisimpressionsart

I worked on the mouse and rabbit with acrylic paints mixed in with some gesso to make them flow better. I generally work with the rule that the outside edges are darker and the inside is lighter. This usually gives a nice effect and looks semi-realistic (in as far as a whimsical piece can look realistic! Lol). I put in a quick background with paint & gesso just to get rid of the blank page.

"Rabbit is sad because she wants to be a cat but mouse says she can't." Story by 4-year-old Jupiter. #mixedmedia #artjournal #artoninstagram #irisimpressionsart

I finished the piece by adding coloured pencils on the face to deepen the shading. I then used oil based paint sticks for the background. I applied them roughly and then smooshed them out with my fingers. They do dry eventually (usually a few days) but while they were still smudgey I used a pin to scratch patterns in the background.

I really love the different elements of the spread and I’m calling this finished. I do however feel like I need to work more on being able to integrate my subjects and the background a bit better, so it all becomes more cohesive.

Start To Finish – bonded by history

Start To Finish Blog Series

Start To Finish is an ongoing series in which I share the progress on a painting from start to finish and I tell you what I did in each step. Please drop me a line or a comment if you decide to follow along and don’t mind sharing, as I’d love to see! Click here to view all posts in this series.

When I was having dinner with my friend Ed the other day, he was talking about his school days and said he and his friends from that time in his life were ‘bonded by history’. I promptly got out my phone, apologised for being anti-social, and made a note of that phrase as it spoke to me so much! I knew I wanted to create a painting that incorporated that quote.

I’ve created a few paintings lately in a grungy/shabby style and have been dying to share with you all the progress on one of these paintings! A quick note: on the other paintings in this style I did the background first and then painted the figure on top. In this one I drew the girls first and created the background around it. This makes the sketching easier, but in hindsight I actually prefer the first method because everything is integrated better. Ah well, live and learn! Either technique has its pros and cons, you just have to find what works best for you.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens I sketched two cute girlies on my canvas board (8×8).

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens Adding colour to the faces and hair with Caran d’Ache watersoluble crayons. The irises in the eyes are done with sparkly Stewart Gill fabric paints.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens I cut this shapes of the dresses out of paper and put alternate stripes of washi tape on them.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens Added some grunge to the dresses with walnut ink spray and brown acrylic glaze. Adding background elements by using Tim Holtz distress stains, metallic paints and more glazes of brown and off-white acrylic paint.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board, WIP - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens Added some brighter geometric elements to the background with stencils.

Bonded By History - mixed media on canvas board - © 2014 Iris Fritschi-Cussens For the final steps I muted the background elements by adding more glazes and metallic paint. I added lace ribbon sprayed with walnut ink around the border and finally I stamped the words in the middle.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this little painting take shape! If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more like this, please don’t hesitate to sign up to my newsletter (it’s over there —-> in the sidebar, you may need to scroll up)