Jan 23, 2011

Transformation (in Grey) - commissioned painting

Transformation in Grey  11"x14" acrylic 

Just finished this baby last night. I had showed the original version of Transformation to a friend, who requested a similar painting in black and white with the yellow butterfly. The original painting was an exercise for my art group in which we created a concept for the phrase "what if?". At the time I thought, "what if I were a tree?", hence the painting. But I also was still exploring the butterfly/chrysalis analogy and transforming myself and my life into one that I wanted. Note that while the figures in each painting are stylized (and idealized), they have hips and belly - because I appreciate that, being a curvy girl myself. Anywhoo...

Original painting, Transformation  11"x14" acrylic

For this new version, I used Adobe Photoshop Elements to paint up a digital version first. Once everything was designed and approved, I projected the sketch onto a canvas and outlined the main elements in pencil.

Tree branches being painted

Since the background colors were already painted in, I added the tree nymph next. Maybe the right term for her would be dryad. Either way, she's the spirit of growth and transformation in this piece. I drybrushed some shading into the trunk to add form, but didn't want to get too bogged down in that until more of the overall painting was complete. Back to that later.

Adding leaves

Next, I added all the leaves and corrected some of the branch shapes. You can see some of the penciled-in sketch in the image above, where the butterfly would go after the grey paint is complete.

Cleaning up around the roots, and adding the chrysalis

The roots area is next - I cleaned up the edges there and then added the chrysalis in grey with a bit of color on top. While this is meant to have color, to connect the chrysalis (contemplation) to butterfly (transformation), I kept this softer and more subtle.

Our dryad in the trunk of the tree

Now that most of the painting is done, I went back to polish up the central figure. Most of the details in her form are drybrushed light over dark. I also added a glow about her as in the original piece.

The butterfly really pops with the golden yellow

The last element I painted was the butterfly. As you can see, with the soft shades of grey in the rest of the painting, it really stands out.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the process behind this painting. It's a bit different than my landscapes for sure! But most of my narrative work is loaded with symbolism and tends to be illustrative. I've got more paintings in the works, with another one for a customer and also for the Heart Art project coming soon.


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