Perspective in Painting

Back at the end of October I was shopping with a friend. Every year starting in November, she begins this long tradition that I'm sure many people do. But hers is a sight to behold once it's finished. She puts up her Christmas village. It's very large. While we were shopping in Michael's she told me that she had been looking on Amazon for a backdrop to go behind her village. But it was very basic and was about $50. Jokingly, I said I could probably paint a backdrop for her.
Keep in mind my painting experience and skills are limited. I've dabbled with acrylic and had pretty good success with watercolor. But this would be a completely different level.
My friend took me at my word and I suddenly found myself conscripted to paint a backdrop for her.
I wasn't sure how to go about this. I mean, I've never done anything like it before. But ever the problem solver, I thought about it for a while, did some research, and considered my options. I wanted it lightweight enough for it to stand easily, but still sturdy. I wanted something that would hold up and last with the paint and I needed something that would lend itself well to my level of skill and ability. 
I have another friend that does puzzles regularly. I occasionally do them myself, and when I saw that she used a large foam poster board, (like those science fair display boards) to do her puzzles on, I began using one too. I have a finished puzzle now glued to one, a current puzzle safely folded into one and tucked under my bead, and one without the folded pieces on my art table as protection for the glass when I'm not using it. So I decided I would start with one of those. It's larger, the sides will fold allowing it to stand, and it should be sturdy enough in terms of paint.

Collages Made with PicMonkey Photo Editor
Then I began wondering if I should first treat the board with something, to keep the paint from soaking into the paper covering the foam and causing it to buckle or curl. More research led me to a Youtube video of a model plane building hobbyist. Before painting the parts for his planes, he coats them with polyurethane. Luckily, I happened to have a couple cans. However, I was unsure how it would look, if it would work, and which (glossy or matte) polyurethane to use. 

What I needed to do was test it. I still had the sides that I cut from the board that covers my table, so I cut a couple squares from that and created a series of test plates for my project using the two polyurethanes, a can of spray fixative (which in all honesty, was meant for graphite and charcoal), and nothing at all . From there, I made my decision. I went matte as the paint seemed to cover better on that than the glossy. 

Now nothing was stopping me from creating my masterpiece. 

Or, attempting to create it. 
But, I went into it fully confident. There was no doubt. And I found this enlightening. I felt I could do this, and do it well. It wouldn't be Van Gogh but that's ok. I'm not Van Gogh.
As I painted, I was having fun. So. Much. Fun. Learning techniques for the various brushes as I went. Learning about mixing paint and creating values of color. And I found myself looking at images and the world in a different ways. Instead of seeing an object and its shadow, I would see the layers of colors in that object, and the layers of colors in even its shadow. 
I found myself able to let go too. Instead of being precise and exact and maybe a little obsessive like I am when I draw, the paint allowed me to be more open and free. 
It took approximately four days to complete-working on it for a few hours at a time. The final day, I began working on it around 2:00 and didn't finish until after 11:00. 

To complete it, I had to take one more trip to Michael's for a can of spray sealer/fixative for acrylic and oil paint. That final coat made the colors pop just enough. 
And when all was said and done, I was thrilled with the finished work.
And more importantly, the friend for whom I painted it was pleased! 

Finished! (But before being sprayed with fixative.)

This video was taken by my friend. It shows my backdrop with her village. I guess I need to paint her about two more to spread across the entire backside of her village!

Tools Used:

Elmer's Foam Core Display Board-White
Minwax Polyurethane-Matte
Reeve's and Artist's Loft Acrylic Paint-Titanium White, Pthalo Blue, Cerulean Blue, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Deep Green, Emerald Green, and a bit of Lemon Yellow. 
Various Brushes-size/shape/bristle type 
US Artquest Jewelz Watercolor Palette Pigmented Mica Watercolor Paint-Pearl White (I went over some of the snow with this to add a little shimmer. It's not super obvious; which is perfect.)

Please excuse the poor quality of the photos. My camera phone is not the greatest. 


  1. I wish I had the talent you have. You amaze me every time you create something.

  2. Thanks, Amanda! It helps to have such supportive people in my corner. :)


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