Painting with Darkness – Part III

After four weeks of slaving over a huge canvas, I’ve finally finished my new painting, ‘Brothers.’

It’s acrylic and watercolor on a white 42″ x 28″ canvas.

It was fun to paint…and sublime to finish.

Here’s the progression:

photo 1

Key to any canvas painting is prepping the background first. Here I’ve already drawn the tree brothers with light pencil. And thus I began adding reds and yellows for the setting sun background.

photo 2

Almost done with the background watercolors. Didn’t matter if they bled into other areas. The plan was always to put darker, bolder colors on top.

photo 3

Now the real fun begins. The tree on the right will eventually get the ‘all black’ treatment. But his brother on the left just gets a ‘lil taste of the darkness.

photo 4.4

The white space in the middle/bottom was going to be the hard part, I knew. So here I concentrated on the gnarled angles of the black tree. My knife-edge brush was key.

photo 5

The base coat of the black tree is done. Once I started with the roiling flames of the fire tree, my 4-year old son was rapt. He voted on his favorite, and the fire tree won.

photo 6

The Brothers begin to take true shape. Now I went back and darkened up the background a bit. The setting sun didn’t look as blood-red as I’d hoped.


photo 7

I wish I had a better camera. Had to use my iPad under sub-optimal lighting. Even so, if you look close you can see the detail in the craggy hills behind the trees.

Brothers Finished

Finished at last. Darkened the flames in the fire tree. Added grey watercolor shadows to the black tree. Touched up the razor hills with whites and blacks. Applied two coats of clear varnish. Well worth the effort. Suits my mood to perfection.

 While writing philosophy, dark fiction, and literary fiction are my true loves, I’ve got to admit…

painting is just as satisfying.

Until next time,

J Edward Neill

About grimwain

J Edward Neill is a surreal artist and author. He lives in a cavern in North GA, where the sun shines too much, but the bourbon is fantastic.
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