Simon LJ Baxter

First Painting

Let the Art Journey Begin

In 2020, I moved into this unit which had a large blank wall that faces the entrance door. It was screaming out for a large piece of artwork to adorn it.

In the past, I would have bought a picture to hang there. But this time I felt creative. I wanted to have a go at painting.

Off I went to the Reject Shop, where I found a large canvas (90cm x 120cm) for only $45.

Then I headed over to the #ArtShedBrisbane at West End. The staff there are excellent. They explained about preparing the canvas with Gesso. Even though the canvas says it is prepped, I still Gesso my canvases 2 times.

When it came to choosing which type of paint, I chose acrylic paint. I didn’t want to use oils as I lived in a unit and oils have a stronger smell to them.

What should I paint….the dilemma??

I wanted it to have an impact, because it was going to be the first thing you notice when you walk in the door. I wanted it to draw people’s attention to it and ask questions.

As a child, I use to draw cobra snakes wrapped around a knife with the snake striking at you. I don’t know why I liked drawing them…maybe because of the movies I watched. lol.

Also, when I played video games, I use to call myself “Cobra” or “Mongoose”. lol

Anyway, I went searching on the internet and Pinterest for images. I looked at plenty of mongoose and cobra pictures. However, this drawing by Joerosales at DeviantArt really caught my attention.

The first thing I thought of when I looked at the picture was Yin-Yang. I don’t know why…. maybe it is the way that they are intertwined or the way that they are both winning and are both losing, but to me it symbolized Yin-Yang where both light and dark must co-exist and neither is stronger or weaker than the other to have balance in our mind.

The next decision I had to make was; do I have a background scene or just a straight color background. One color background…too boring. I found this great picture of the Grand Canyon. It was perfect. I could have the animals fighting on the edge of the cliff, which will work in with my Yin Yang perspective….

Watercolors was another option; however, I had no experience or knowledge about painting. Watercolor painters are so underrated. Their ability to apply paint in a way that creates depth and dimension through light and dark application from the same brushstroke.

When it came to choosing which acrylic paint to use, I was again overwhelmed and out of my depth. I knew I didn’t want to do a painting that had big texture, like you see with most acrylic type paintings.

Now the next problem to overcome; I didn’t know, properly, my primary and secondary colors and when I mix colors they seem to turn into mud.

So, I wasn’t game enough or should I say have enough faith in myself to just buy the primary colors and mix and make my own colors. Yeah Nah.

All was not lost. The #ArtShedBrisbane had #Mont Marte‘s 36pc set in their Dimension series, which has several shades of different colors. Saved….

Transferring image to canvas

The next step I faced was transferring this image, which I had printed out on an A4 size page, to my large canvas, which was 90cm x 120cm. The process I used was making gridlines on both the A4 and canvas. From there I able to try and match where the outlines on the drawing intersected with the gridlines.

As you can see from the image on the left, I didn’t get it right the first, in relation to positioning and size on the canvas. You can see the first attempt in the background.

After I was satisfied with my drawing, I had to rub all those lines out. Well didn’t that take some doing.

Let the painting process begin

When I was painting over the lines, I almost decided on a black and white painting with color in various areas to make it pop.

Yeah, I took on a big challenge for my first painting, but how else was I going to learn? Bob Ross had a saying that helped me through the process and through the process in all my other paintings:

“There is no mistakes in painting, only happy little incidents”

  • Bob Ross

Throughout the whole process I took lots of photos at different stages, which I have put in video for you to enjoy.

As you will see, I redid the snake skin a few times before I got to the final outcome. I added a gel to the final coat so that when you run your fingers over its skin it will feel like a skin texture.

I also had to learn about how colors can change the depth (distance) of an object. For example, the distance mountain range had to be toned down. I did this with a simple light color of white. As soon as I did this, the cobra and mongoose popped off the canvas.

In the end, I am very happy and proud of the outcome and so glad I started this art journey.

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