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Behind the Scenes: How I Paint Landscapes on Canvasses

My painting process and how I build up landscapes in acrylic paint from beginning to end (and a sneak peek at my new collection of paintings!)

Hello lovely! I am so happy to see you here!

Since January, I have been pouring a lot of love and creative time into a new collection of landscape paintings. They're inspired by those lovely old cottages and farmhouses that you see scattered across the gorgeous English countryside, hidden by vast foliage. Most of these are loosely based on landscapes I have had the joy to see in real life!

Following on from my sketchbooking blog a few weeks ago, I thought I'd show you how I take a sketch and make it into a painting, from beginning to end. I am showing the process with a few different paintings as some are more finished than others at this point!

This blog post has taken me a while to write as I'm still working on these paintings and they are in various stages of completion right now! They're getting closer to being finished now and it's so exciting to see :)

So how do I paint a canvas from start to finish in acrylic paint?

Step#1 - The Planning!

As I mentioned in my last blog post, my sketches feed into my paintings. Most of this collection started life in my sketchbook!

The first bit of painting comes next! I paint the first layer of acrylic paint onto my chosen canvas. I create texture on this layer too by building up the paint in different areas. I love the patterns and movement that can be created at this point! As the sky is the background of these paintings, my first layer was blue.

Once that layer is dry, I grab a pencil and draw out a loose layout of what I'm going to paint.

Step #2 - Colour Blocking

Next I pick my colours and I do like to keep them simple. For this collection, I picked a light and dark blue, light and dark green and a brown for my main colours, mixing them with white as needed. I mix all the shades of colour from these alone. I chose yellow acrylic paint and pink oil pastel to add highlights and details.

The next step is to block in the colours to get a feel for how things will sit on the canvas. These aren't necessarily the tones I will stick with but by using a similar colour, it shows me how balanced the painting will be.

"Blocking in the colours and shapes, gives me an idea of how balanced the painting will be" - Nicola Ellen

Step #3 - Starting to Add to the Shapes

From here, I keep adding new layers of colour, testing the shades I want as I go along, especially as sometimes the paint dries darker than I'd like, as you can see with the browns in the picture below. At this point, the scene starts to come together a bit more and things start to look more recognisable; trees start to look more like trees, hedges look more hedges and a landscape begins to emerge!

I go through this process for a while and changing colours and shapes so they look just as I want them too. There is a LOT of too-ing and fro-ing at this point and I paint many layers getting the colours to look right. The foliage in the painting below has gone through many shades and tones of green and even in the third photo, the trees on the right still need some work on them!

I particularly love painting trees. As they get closer to looking as I want them, I love using an almost dry brush when the paint is drying and really hard to move about as it takes on a great foliage look!

Step #4 - Adding Detail

Now details like roof tiles, windows, doors, grass, tree bark, etc can be added. Initially they are flat colour but they soon start to build up texture and detail and really bring the picture to life.

Step #5 - Building up More Detail

Adding the last bits of detail in oil pastel and making the scenes pop! All in moderation though as a little goes a long way and I don't want to be ruining the painting at this point!! Of course, I sign each painting too!

Lastly, a coat of varnish is added to protect the paint.

So there you have it...

That's my process. The process of how I paint landscapes and approach all of my paintings. It can take time, but the build up of a landscape but it's a lot of fun and very meditative.

How do I get my hands on one of these paintings, I hear you ask? Can we see them all in full? On the 2nd April, I will be launching the full collection. To be one of the first to see these, you will want to join my mailing list as I will be sending out a preview email on the 31st March. Just fill in the form below and you'll be one of the first see the new collection in full! See you there! :)

That's all for this week. In the meantime you can join my newsletter for studio notes and a preview of the landscape collection. Last month I accidently deleted the instagram app from my phone and I've been enjoying life without it, so for the time being, I'm not hanging out on instagram.


My bi-monthly newsletter is where I share news and behind the scenes from the studio, along with tips, discounts and freebies.

This is the only place I announce discounts for my shop and you also receive an illustrated desktop calendar each email too. Sound good?

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