A Painting’s Progress

October 28, 2007 at 10:07 pm 6 comments

Here’s an example of how a painting comes together.

I’m skipping a lot of preparatory steps… I’ll blog about them next time!

I work on my paintings in stages, letting each layer dry before applying the next. Here’s the first layer:

Progress of a Painting, stage 1

I usually start by blocking in the darkest areas of the painting, just to give me some structure to follow. Notice that even from the very beginning I use my characteristic pointillist style dots.

My table, to the right of the easel, holds my palette (it’s the big white sheet of freezer paper taped onto the table). The photo I’m working from is also lying on the table. You can also see other photos taped up on the wall behind the easel. Those are for other paintings.

Now I’m ready to start adding other colors:

Progress of a Painting, stage 2

I’ve put in some of the lightest parts of this painting. Again, this helps me keep track of what goes where. The midtone areas get filled in next:

Progress stage 3

This stage takes a while. I’ll work on the painting for a while, then set it aside. I’ll come back to it in a few hours or the next day when it’s good and dry, and I can look at it with fresh eyes. I’ll add to it a little each day. This goes on for several days. If I get really stuck, I might even set it aside for several days or even weeks just to let my subconscious mind work on it.

When the painting is almost finished, I’ll often leave it alone for several days, propped up somewhere in my studio so that I can see it while doing other things. Progress can slow down a lot in the final stages as I mull over what the painting “needs” in order to pull it together.

Here’s the end result (picture taken in better light):

Hills and Shadows “Hills and Shadows”, 2007, 40×30″


Entry filed under: Acrylic, Landscape, Painting, Pointillism, Process.

The Care and Feeding of Acrylic Paintings Part IV – Cleaning Painting Prep


  • 1. tackad  |  November 12, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    Glad to have come across you blog. Really like your work. I also do dots (pointillism). Noticed you called your style neo-pointillism.
    I do abstract pointillism. Would you mind checking out my work ?

  • 2. barbarajcarter  |  November 12, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Hi Dean (Tackad), thanks for stopping by! I’m so glad to see another “dotty” painter. Not a lot of us around, are there? I don’t call myself a true Pointillist because I’m really not doing Pointillism per se, but it’s the closest thing that I could think of. Hence the “neo”.

    I absolutely LOVE your abstract pointillism! Fantastic subtle colors.

    I once did a more abstract series of paintings with smaller, discrete dots reminiscent of Aboriginal Australian art, and hope to get back to that again someday. I just feel right now that I need to concentrate on my landscapes and see how far I can take them. But I do love the abstract stuff too!


  • 3. Inspiration: Georges Seurat « Barbara J Carter  |  August 22, 2008 at 11:53 am

    […] like the way the white shows through between his dots. I prefer to tone my canvases a solid color (red, almost always) before applying my dots. This is a big difference between my approach and Seurat’s. The […]

  • 4. Libbe  |  June 26, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Hi Barbara, I love your artwork. I love the colors you use and how they blend in with each other. What colors do you seem to work with the most?

    • 5. barbarajcarter  |  June 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      Thanks Libbe, that’s very kind. I use a limited palette, just 2 reds, one yellow and one blue (rarely a 2nd blue), plus white. Cadmium red and yellow, ultramarine blue, and permanent alizarin crimson. The small number of colors means I get a certain color harmony no matter what I do.

  • 6. Painting Prep « Barbara J Carter  |  December 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

    […] Now, thumbnail in hand, I can begin actually painting the image. That’s the topic of my previous post. […]

Barbara J Carter

I'm an artist. I make paintings with dots.

I work in acrylic paint, in a couple of distinct styles: landscapes and abstracts.

Native to California, I've lived elsewhere and only recently returned to my home state. I now live in Los Angeles.

I mostly show my art in outdoor festivals in California. I also occasionally show my work in art galleries or open studio events. You can see an up-to-date list of upcoming shows on my website (click here).

I invite you to sign up to receive my free email newsletter, in which I list my upcoming shows and talk about my latest work. I send it irregularly, a few times a year.

My links

My paintings

Follow me on Twitter: @barbarajcarter

Why I call my landscapes neo-Pointillist landscape paintings

A bunch of my abstract dot paintings

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 131 other followers


Newsletter Signup

Click here to receive my free email newsletter for up-to-date info on my shows, my art, and anything else that I'm up to. I send it out irregularly, a few times a year.

My latest Twitter tweets

Find Articles by Date

%d bloggers like this: