Ashes for Ande – Sketching a pretty girl

Sometimes…every once in a while, I decide to step up my art.

Usually I work on abstract paintings with lots of deep, dark color, like these.

But lately I’ve set my sights on something realistic.

I’m calling my newest painting Ashes for Ande. It’ll eventually (hopefully) be a book cover for my next series, Ashes of Everything. For now, I’m going to catalogue her creation. As I complete each step, I’ll update this article. If you want to see the finished piece, keep checking back. I’ll post more pics and descriptions along the way.

* * * *

Step 1 – The sketch


On a 16″ x 20″ canvas, I began my work. I used a twenty-year old pencil (not kidding) to outline, shade, and fill. No inks here. To perfect the shadows on her shoulders, neck, and face, I typically over-shaded with the pencil and later used a fine-edge eraser to remove excess. I was very pleased with how she came to life.


Step 2 – Adding the blacks


After the initial sketch, I took a deep breath. The easy part was over. The time-consuming (and risky) part began. With deep black acrylic paint, I began filling in her hair, her shirt, and the deep shadows on her neck and left arm. Any slight overuse of paint would have doomed her. Also, at this point, the background may or may not remain. Not sure I’m in love with the grey streaks.


Step 3 – Deep shading and darkening her eyes


This part was challenging. I had to use black acrylic paint to shade our girl’s features darker than a pencil alone could handle. Ideally I’d have used a charcoal stick, but I didn’t have a good one on hand. After blacking in her eyes, nose, and mouth, I applied the barest amount of paint to a small, flat brush and worked for a few hours deepening the shadows. Despite my nerves, she turned out pretty well.

Now on to the final step…


Step 4 – The End

Andes Daughter

Darkened borders. More shading. A little touch-up around her eyes.



The painting is called Ashes for Ande. The girl is a not-yet-named character appearing in a sequel to this fantasy book series.

For more of my art, go here.

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.
Bookmark the permalink.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Down the Dark Path | New Painting – Apocalpyse Vale

Comments are closed