Taratories Blog

Paris and Peonies

After my art retreat I continued to work on this self portrait.  I worked on it every single day for a little over 2 weeks.  I posted my progression on social media for this piece and now as I look back on the photos, I am really glad that I chose to do so.  I wouldn't normally take photos of my art throughout the period of time that I am working on it, but with the accountability to post something every day, it forced me to stop and keep a record.  Its kind of like having an art journal. 

This was the beginning.  I like to get the hardest parts out of the way.  Getting the likeness of the face is by far the most challenging.  It was kind of strange drawing my face, I must say.  

Planning out the entire composition of this piece was challenging, but fun at the same time.  When I do art I really like to start with an small idea, but then let it take its course and evolve along the way.  The evolving part is the fun part!  I knew I was going to have me sketching the eiffel tower, but that was it.  I then drew some basic lines adding an environment and pattern/designs.  At this stage, I began to add some color.  Throwing on this intense orange color was extremely scary for me, because at this stage it didn't make sense.  I knew that as I added the rest of the color it would make more sense, but I definitely questioned whether or not it would.

I started to add more color, and at this point the orange started to seem less prominent and then came the sense of relief.

I then added some cherry blossoms to frame my face.  I love to incorporate nature when I can and I think it added a softness to balance out the more intense patterns.

Then came the Eiffel Tower.  That wonderful iconic symbol of Paris.  I kept it realistic, but somewhat muted, in the background.  I added these painted designs in the sky to balance the pattern around the eiffel tower and to create another layer of softness around the face.


I then painted on the first coat of green that was to be a base coat for the foliage.

Then I darkened up the green and gave it some texture, then moved on to the peonies.  Making the peony large that is closest to the viewer helps give the feeling of depth and perspective in this piece.  Overlapping the flowers a little in front of my body also helps with this.

I felt like the corner where the flowers were needed a touch of realism and detail.  A bee was the perfect addition to give some life to that corner.  I call my new little friend "Bee-rad".


I then painted 3 layers of grass on.  The first layer being a light green, the second being a shade darker, and the 3rd layer I painted the more defined blades of grass.  I also put some pants on:)

The peonies kept bothering me and I wasn't sure why.  I knew I wanted them to be this shade of pink to tie in with the pink in the designs in the background, but the pink still seemed too strong.  I thought of polka dots, and this was the perfect solution to toning down the pink and giving them some personality.  I discovered a new technique in the process.  I used masking tape to pick up a layer of the colored pencil to make the polka dots.  I didn't actually add any color to the flowers.

Then I finally gave myself a foot and chair to sit on.  I had been holding off on this part because I needed to paint the blades of grass first so I could then paint around them. 

Last, but not least came the palette and sketchbook.  

And this is the final piece.  I really enjoyed this marathon I have been on these last two weeks to complete this piece, but like all races, you are glad when it is over and you can sit down and get a tall glass of water.  

The best feeling in the world.  Nothing left to do but to sign your name!