This is a question I usually get from my partner when I begin my paintings. In my head, I have an idea, but I rarely know how I'm going to get it onto the canvas. And more often than not, I don't exactly get there. But I'm ok with that. Partly, because I work best organically. I like to let things develop and build. I know it's not the traditional artist way, but I didn't come through the ranks of traditional artist training, so I don't know any better, I guess. But over the years I have learned what works for me, what I like, what is interesting to me and stirs my passion. I'm not a one medium artist. I explore many different mediums and usually end up using unconventional methods and techniques. For example, I might sketch using water-soluble mediums in the early stages of my acrylic paintings, and these drawings are still visible in the final piece.
No matter what medium dominates my pieces, I am drawn to detail. Details like the veins on leaves, and objects or creatures lurking in the background. Layering is a major part of how I work. I layer mediums - crayons, water-soluble pencils, stencils, gels. I layer textures - cloth, transfers, papers and other fibers. These become part of the painting too.
Here is the progression of a painting I'm currently working on. On a wood panel, which I've coated with several layers of gesso, I roughly sketch elements with watercolour pencils. I use stencils with modelling paste to create textures. I've cut out leaves from fibrous papers. Stamps for the insects. At this stage, I try not to think about where elements are positioned, because I know that in the finished product, many of these will actually be hidden. As I add elements, I turn the canvas, which means that at this point, I often don't even settle on which way is up.
Here, I'm starting to commit to placement and colours. There are several layers by now. In addition to adding layers, I subtract by means of my handy rotary sander. Not only does that change the texture of the painting by smoothing raised areas, but it reveals layers of colours further below. I sand back throughout the process.
This is the painting closer to completion. Here I'm fine tuning light and dark areas. In this painting, I will still be adding tiny features with pen and ink. I can see that there are many to add yet, but it's getting close to what I consider a finished piece.
And finally, my partner can see, what it's gonna be.