How a Painting of a White Cat Starts

I thought it might be interesting to show the very earliest stage of one of my paintings–and it isn’t pretty. The inset shows my initial color sketch. I begin most of my paintings by laying down a solid color in acrylic–typically a raw sienna, burnt umber or raw umber depending on whether the painting will be warm or cool. I’ve already done a sketch so I know where it’s going, and in this case, transferred it using a white transfer paper to my panel.

For this painting, I started to add my dark tones in a raw umber, and some of where the midtones will fall in a pthalo blue. Then I roughly brushed in where some of my lightest tones will fall with a creamy light color.

I always think of this as the “ugly stage”, and it never ceases to amaze me, that somehow it morphs into a finished painting. Every artist uses a different process to start, but for me, the thing I have the hardest time dealing with is a white background–so I cover it with a solid layer of paint to get over that hump.