I painted these two Georgia Pecan door hangers a month apart. The one on the right was a lucky whim.. I wasn't sure how they would be received as door hanger art but I knew it was something I had not seen and that was my goal. Painting door hangers is a fun way to decompress. This time of the year I'm usually stressed out up to my ears in commissions. Due to Covid and the changes in our regular school holiday I was hesitant to take on commissions I would struggle to find time to finish. This way I can paint when I can and if I don't finish anything else between here and Christmas it's no big deal. Also why I haven't tried to presale the door hangers. As you will see if you read on life has a way of surprising you.
From concept to painting
It all started with all the positive affirmation I received after I posted the first door hanger. A day or two later I made up my mind and ordered 5 more blanks with the goal of painting them before Christmas. While waiting on my shipment I rode the golf cart to the nearest pecan field and took lots of pictures. When I got back I edited 50 images down to about 5 and picked the above to render in photoshop.
When the blanks came in I spent about two days prepping them and I projected the chosen image onto the primed surface of the Georgia shape. I draw in most of the big shapes and dominant lines from the photo. Pencil marks stay visible on the paneling so I draw in a few more dark lines than I normally do on canvas.
Voila.. its ready for paint
And then life happened and we had a change of plans.
On the Wednesday that I had big plans to paint the day away I went to pick up my 4 year old from the neighbors. He was complaining about his right arm and wouldn't lift it. After a trip to the ER with an x-ray we learned he had broken his collar bone jumping off the bed. I went and got him a happy meal, brought him home and babied him the rest of the afternoon. I only managed a few minutes to paint after Dad made it home and took over.
I blocked in the back ground with the first coat of color. I new the painting would get much darker so I kept it vibrant and light. The brush strokes are very visible in the beginning which is something I struggled with the first few times I painted on panel. Since then I've learned not to blend or try to smooth too much.
Then there was a short pause from painting. We had an orthopedic appointment and the first day home after the booboo we spent on the couch. Not a lot of alone time to paint that week.
When I finally found the time to start back painting I went straight to the smooth shell of the pecan. The husks have lots of texture and intricate details so I saved it for last. I take pictures at the end of every session. I like to look back at my progress. On the pecans I'm using a lot of yellow oxide, burnt umber, raw umber, dark titanium white in Master's touch Acrylic paint. The also have a nice opaque florescent light orange which adore and use in everything! It adds the best glow to highlights and brightens up all the colors.
The husk is a mixture of dioxazine purple for the darkest areas and lake blue or yellow oxide where I'll come back and add highlights. I mix the smallest amounts of black into my purple for the very dark but I hold off on real dark blacks till the end. I reference the photograph heavily during this part and only use the pencil marks as basic guidelines.
Like I said above each picture is from the end of a session. Breaks in painting usually mean things like, its bed time, I had to cook supper, do something for Stetson, go somewhere, etc. So at this point, we are 5 days in the painting of this door hanger.. six different short sessions. That's pretty good considering we had an ER visit, a doctors appointment, and bartended a wedding with 200 guests. The BD (baby daddy) is the reason why I get to paint. He has always stepped in and picked up my slack while I get to do what I love the most.
I continue to darken my darks and lighten my lights. I've added another wash to the background to make it more uniformed. I love the dark rich colors of the husks and how they contrast with the lighter smoother pecan shells. I love using blues in my highlights for the pops of colors and how the warm browns melts into the deep purple-black. When I feel pretty satisfy I airbrush the black vignette around the edges and throw in a little bit of soft shadows. The vignette looks more finished and helps push the image off whatever wall or door it may be hung on.
I seriously need to figure out a better way to take pictures. My easel Ott light washes out the tops of my pieces plus you can see all my messiness in the background. I cleared off a spot on the bed to take this picture but the pattern from the comforter is distracting. I don't put the wire on until it's finished so I can't hang it at this point on the wall.
All that is left is using the black paint marker (uniPOSCA) to out line and make all the fun dots and marks on the shells. I outlined each husk for definition and to add a graphic quality to the final piece. I like how flat black these markers dry and they seem to go a long way. I used a light wash to pick back out some textures of the shell and then it was done.
I took it outside for the final picture, listed it on my webpage and it sold within the hour. The new owner Mr. John E Williams is a fellow Highschool alumni and also from the Pecan capital, Baconton, GA. He now lives in New York and I am so happy he has this little piece of home.
If nothing else comes up this week (knocking on wood) the next one will be more impressionistic in style, which is outside my comfort zone.