Friday, May 17, 2013

You're like a party somebody threw me, you taste like birthday, you look like New Year

Last weekend a co-worker asked me to come paint a surprise for his daughter. 

She would be turning three, and they planned to take her to a water park for the weekend. She loves The Lorax, so while they're away I came in and painted some truffala trees and The Lorax in her bedroom.

I was very excited for this project.  Dr. Seuss is one of my biggest artistic influences - he was so unafraid to be zany and use lots of color. So, I brought my bucket and paints to Nora's room and got working. 

Always start at the back when you're painting. You can cover things up later but it's hard to add more to the behind. This being the case I began with the tree trunks. 

Then touch ups and fixes. Wet (and even dry) acrylic can be "erased" with a clean, wet, rag.  I reshaped most of these trees slightly.

I sketched my Lorax in pencil first to make sure I got him just right. 

The Lorax is pretty easy to draw. He's basically a lumpy potato with whiskers and eyebrows.

Then, using one color at a time, I filled in the trees and the Lorax. I wanted to minimize color switches as the sink was downstairs.  This strategy limits trips and time spent washing brushes.

In the book the trees have yellow trunks, but my co worker and his wife prefer the white trunks in the movie version. I think the white is quite pretty. It reminds me of aspen trees, which are ubiquitous in Colorado where I grew up. 

Truffalas are easy to paint.  Paint a line.  Then paint a circle.  Then pull off lots of tufts going in a spiral pattern.

I remembered to make one tree not rotate the same direction as the others. Seuss did this in the book, the trees don't all "spin" the same way.  

Then the best part, outlining everything in black! 

Black is so touchy.  The paint I use is heavy body stuff from Liquitex, and it can come out too dry to make smooth ink-like lines.  To get it to flow properly I used both water and a slow-dry acrylic medium. 

The two act to thin the paint so it's easier to work with.  It can be hard to get the ratio of paint to water and slow-dry just right.  Sometimes the paint gets too thin or too thick, and you're always having to mix up more.
I somehow managed to drive the 15 or so miles to the painting location without bringing along a single round brush.  So I painted everything here with flat brushes, the smallest being about 1/2 inch.  It was a bit difficult at times, but it allowed for little curved flairs that were very satisfying.

He has no pupils so he looks like the Lorax of the Damned.  Had to wait for the whites to dry.


I sat on the floor to do the low bits.  Here's the view looking up.

Here, looking decidedly less demonic:

And finished!

Nora approves!

My co-worker sent me this photo of the room all done up with the bed.  It even matches the blanket!

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