This is a nursery I painted for friends Virginia and Gabe, with a Care Bears theme. The starting point: many Care Bears-themed items, which varied quite a bit in colors and were stuffed full of bears, stars, clouds, and rainbows. To unify these extremely colorful items, I suggested going for a simple sky and clouds theme with lots of little white stars and a few happy yellow stars. (which stars get faces? Did they have names? I have no idea.) This simpler background would also be easy to change into other themes, like space, Super Mario Bros, or others if they want to change it up in the future.
Similar to the approach I used for Hannah and Amanda’s jungle-themed nursery, I took a few photos and made some mockups in Photoshop to get a sense of the scale of the design, and how the layout would work with their furniture. While doing this I started messing around with accent colors and came up with the pink and yellow frames for the windows. We took a look at these mockups together, and it was a go.
I learned a few things along the way.
This one is for friends Ted and Claire who live in Colorado, land of extremely variable weather. They wanted a painting that reflected some of the color and variety they see on a daily basis. After consulting with them about what they liked, I went through a few rounds of Photoshop mockups of possibilities. The combination of these large clouds with a hint of reddish mountains won out.
I decided to make a triptych out of it rather than use one large canvas. Since these were considerably bigger canvases than I could paint on the table I usually use, I painted them propped against my closet.
The mountains came together right away. Probably helps that the tones mostly matched the base layers of yellow ochre and burnt sienna. They were so fast and natural to paint that it made me think of Bob Ross. He must have made some happy little mountains for all of those happy little trees to be around.
The clouds involved a lot of drybrushing. I end up mashing my brushes quite a bit with this, but I was pretty good about washing them immediately and they don’t seem too much worse for the wear. I skewed a little lighter on the overall look so I could focus on the subtleties in the pink and golden tones while keeping the weight of the big puffy cumulus clouds.
The progression on this one was a little odd in that it hit a stage where I was pretty happy with it early on. That’s good and bad: the good thing is that it’s motivating to see it come together right away, and the bad thing is that it can make me nervous about moving ahead and messing it up. Once I started adding in the pink tones, I could see more clearly how much more was needed. Also, on some paintings I just get a clear sense of when I’m done, like my recent tomato painting. On others, I see a point where it’s close to where I want it to be and I need to stop myself from overworking it. This was one of those.
It’s ready to go to its new home in Colorado.
This one’s a wall mural I painted for the nursery for our friends Hannah and Amanda. The starting point: a jungle theme, butter yellow walls, brown curtains, and a few items including a curtain and a blanket with monkeys.
After taking pictures of all of the walls, I made these mockups in Photoshop to work out the design beforehand. We ended up scaling back to two walls instead of three, and I painted this over two rainy days. I masked the square and the crosshatched lines with painter’s tape, and sketched the plants freehand. I’d attempted to paint the circle by using a string pinned to the center, but after a few dashes I realized it wasn’t curving consistently; I got better results going freehand with the rest.
While painting, I mixed the blue and green to create an extra green for variety for the plants…and after painting one bush, I realized that the mixed color blended too well. I needed more contrast, so after adding in some white it was good to go. At some point I’ll remember these kinds of things before I begin rather than during painting..! It all came together in the end. With the inspired addition of the pith helmet, it’s a room fit for baby Zachary.