Painting Demonstration: Monet’s Garden in Autumn

I AM VERY EXCITED ABOUT PRESENTING this demo to you! Some of you may remem­ber that I con­ducted a pub­lic demon­stra­tion of over 60 peo­ple who were non-artists and col­lec­tors. We had a won­der­ful time. Since I had to paint large so the audi­ence could see, fin­ish­ing was done in the stu­dio. I will take you through the demo. Once I am in the stu­dio paint­ing you will no longer see me in the pho­tos ;) So here we go:

I used a series of pho­tos that I shot one year in Monet’s gar­den, Giverny, France. It was over­cast, driz­zly  but the sun popped through the clouds now and then.

What starts out in the Spring­time as a wide open path about 12 feet wide becomes a car­pet of nas­tur­tiums by mid-to-late Octo­ber. This first demo pic shows the focal point place­ment (door to the house — does it look like a door yet?)  ;) I used my acrylic paint­ing brush to sketch out the sub­ject rather than char­coal, etc., because I felt con­fi­dent enough to forge ahead. Addi­tion­ally, this keeps me loose and becomes part of the painting.

Iden­ti­fy­ing the Focal Point

  Next two pho­tos show me push­ing and pulling angles and indi­cat­ing the arbors out from the door’s posi­tion. I keep it very loose through­out the paint­ing process so I can make changes with­out weep­ing ;) Plus, it brings more life to the piece. I have lit­tle light and I wanted the folks to see my strokes, there­fore, a mix of alizarin crim­son and pthalo green made for a rich dark blackish-brown.

Paint­ing out and away from the focal point.

Here you can see me chang­ing to another image on my lap­top; needed a dif­fer­ent pic for the path position.

Sketch­ing to indi­cate the house structure.

  As you can see, I am speak­ing while painting…not an easy task using both right and left sides of the brain at the same time :) Any­way, I am blocking-in pas­sages that are large in the col­ors they rep­re­sent as a whole. I will break these areas down in to smaller and smaller seg­ments — you’ll see :)

Begin­ning to block-in solid areas of color.

  Notice in this shot that I am look­ing at the sub­ject (photo.) I spend more time look­ing what I am paint­ing rather than the paint­ing itself. It forces my brain to paint what I truly see, even if it is cre­ated in a painterly way.

You can also see my palette. I only have about eight Golden Open Acrylic col­ors: Cad­mium Red Medium, Alizarin Crim­son, Ultra­ma­rine Blue, Pthalo Blue, Cad­mium Yel­low Medium, Cad­mium Yel­low Light, Pthalo Green. plus Tita­nium White. I could have used fewer but did not want to run into trou­ble. Notice, no browns on the plate. [I take no issue with using black. Just try­ing to show  you aa more col­or­ful option, espe­cially if you mix  black into most of your colors.]

See the arches above my hand…later…

Con­tin­u­ing to block-in — swosh — swosh –swosh.

Giv­ing you a clean look at the paint­ing so far.

The can­vas is now fully cov­ered, except for the house. I did not want to lose the struc­ture so left it until now to start block­ing it’s col­ors. Nor­mandy pink, a very pale pink­ish, orangish, gray­ish, and a few other ish’s :) Then I start build­ing the Nas­tir­sums down onto the peb­ble path. If I com­pletely cov­ered the path, there would be no break for the eye.

Also get in my sky and dis­tant hill­side to com­pare with the mid­dle and fore­grounds. This is what helps me build with the val­ues cor­rectly (light­ness or dark­ness of the painted ele­ments.) If you squint your eyes and look at this photo you can read­ily see the light­est, mid­dle and dark­est areas. All lead the viewer to the house around the left or right-side plant­i­ngs or down the path and back.

Fully cov­ered can­vas with large areas of paint to retain the struc­ture. I left the house white so I could see it clearly enough to paint it.

 Now, I start to really fly. Once I have all my anchor points in, I “dance on the can­vas.” Even when I paint in the stu­dio, the same thing happens.



  Zoom­ing– in, I hold my brush more like a writ­ing instru­ment to give my hand more con­trol. The archi­tec­ture is so loosely painted that now it needs real struc­ture. Even if the end paint­ing looks painterly, if the archi­tec­ture is not firmly planted cor­rectly, it will fall apart visually.


  The house is cor­rected — straight, bet­ter defined and sym­met­ri­cal. But the paint­ing is much too dark over­all. How­ever, acrylic lay­ers of opaque or thin veils of color will dif­fuse the“black holes” you see.

I have the basis for veg­e­ta­tion shad­ows on the path.

Notice that I am no longer in “demo mode”, but am fin­ish­ing this in the stu­dio. It’s a big paint­ing to com­plete live while talk­ing in the allot­ted time but, enough for the great audi­ence who sat through it all ;)


↓ Yeah! I can paint-in the arches now. I have to be patient to paint in what really attracted me to this scene in the first place: the arbors, house facade and path.

Also work­ing up the path leaves and sides of what will be flow­ers and leaves.


All the pre­vi­ous paint­ing leads up to this — the pop­ping of color in the flow­ers. This is always chal­leng­ing because too much “flow­er­ing” can quickly dom­i­nate a paint­ing. I want to make a har­mo­nious, yet col­or­ful pic­ture. Plants can­not be more impor­tant than the house or any other area in this par­tic­u­lar image.

BTY, I am a stick­ler for posi­tion­ing my can­vas, paper or what­ever sur­face, dead level. I actu­ally carry a tiny level with me in the field. This paint­ing is straight, I shot it crooked :(


↓ Huge leap here! I missed get­ting pics of fur­ther build­ing the paint­ing but if you dart your eyes from the last pic to this one you can see the many changes that have been made. Notice the still loose, but bet­ter defined arbor, espe­cially in the fore­ground; how I cor­rected the dis­tant hill­side that now has a hint of trees and grass. I did not just use white to achieve this, but first lighter col­ors into the paint. White is the last thing I add when mak­ing any color. Oth­er­wise, I may have to more and more of the orig­i­nal color or risk get­ting col­ors muddy (see arti­cle, Mud Con­scious, for more.)

oI was unde­cided as to whether or not to add the gardner’s cart.

Why? When­ever I throw some­thing in late in the paint­ing it tends to pop-out or not work. I have already com­mit­ted to what I started out to do. Nev­er­the­less, I placed it in (it’s in the orig­i­nal pics) because the very strong path just runs off the bot­tom edge. This is not bad, but the cart gives the paint­ing proper visual scale, then stops to redi­rect my eye back in to loop back up and enjoy all that’s between it and the cottage.

Does my arm get tired — nah — only once it’s over.


  3 comments for “Painting Demonstration: Monet’s Garden in Autumn

  1. avatar
    May 4, 2015 at 12:23 PM

    Hi Linda,

    Thanks so much for tak­ing the time to respond to this post! Love wear­ing that beret when­ever I can :)

  2. avatar
    April 25, 2015 at 7:24 PM

    Nice infor­ma­tive demon­stra­tion of an AWESOME paint­ing! Love your “fly­ing dance” over the can­vas and your beret!

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