Going Big – Adventures in Large Paintings

I have finally decided to put my mural skills to work in my studio. After many years of plein air painting on small panels, I am really enjoying working large! There is a demand for large paintings here in Colorado, and I am all too happy to satisfy my clients. Here are a couple photos from my latest series of wildflowers.

Painting large in 2003. My back hurts just looking at this!

Hearkening back to my mural days, I used a grid drawn on my resource image that was in proportion to the grid drawn on the canvas. This allowed me to recreate the shapes within a smaller space, and my drawing was more successful. We used this same technique when I was in the Peace Corps and we did a mural on the school wall. We were very far away from projectors, so we used this tried-and-true technique.

Drawing the grid and the sketch with vine charcoal

 

The piece I am working on in my studio, pictured here, is titled “Alpine Garden,” and it measures 48″x60″. I purchased this stretched canvas last time I was in Denver, and I had to use picture hangers to store it on the ceiling of my studio until I could use it.

Lucky for me, Cactus built me a studio that can handle such large canvases!

When the large pieces are finished, it is time for the varnish. I have tried two types, and the jury is still out. I enjoy the Gamblin Varnish, Gamvar, for its direct application. Using a brush feels a little less risky than a spray. However, it is very shiny and I have had galleries complain about the glare. The other type I have used is Kamar Varnish. This is a matte finish, but it is a spray on. It is also way more toxic and can smell for days. I have also had issues with big drops coming off the spray tip and landing on the painting. For these, I opted for the spray, but I had to bring them outside because of the fumes.

Spraying such large pieces can be a challenge, especially in the wind!

Both of these paintings can be purchased through Horton Fine Art, my new gallery in Beaver Creek, CO. I will publish an addendum about framing these next!

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