Painting Process: "North Shore Surf Day"

original painting painting surfart


Have you ever spent the day on one of Hawaii's beautiful beaches? If so, then you know exactly how it feels to enjoy the warm, tropical sun, cool trade winds, and brilliant blue waters. Near the ocean is my favorite place to be, and to me it's even better if I am surfing. In my acrylic on canvas commission, "North Shore Surf Day," I wanted to capture the feeling of spending time relaxing and playing at the beach on a bright, sunny Hawaiian day. 

This large 20"x60" commissioned piece was based off of another original I painted called "North Shore." I wanted to create a slightly different scene with other kinds of flowers/foliage and background yet maintain the happy "vibe" of the first original. Below you can see some images that reveal my painting process. I typically begin with a pencil sketch, then fill in many layers of color, and finish with a black outline. 


First I spend hours penciling in the layout of the girl, foliage and waves to get everything just right. Then I begin to add blocks of color with really watered down acrylic paint. 


Next I add big areas of color all over. I can use faster, bigger strokes in this stage to cover larger areas at a time. This is the stage where I am really deciding on the color palette I will use for the piece. 


After several days of layering color to define shapes, I start adding black lines with my paint pens. This helps me to further define the painting and get a feel for where everything is going. 


After an initial round of black outlines, I go back in and add more layers or color and more detail. I spend a lot of time staring at the painting and deciding what areas need more red, yellow, white, etc. This is the detailing stage that really makes the painting pop. 


Once I have decided the piece is finished, I go over every single black line to smooth them out and 'clean up' the whole painting. That is always my final step. Then I give it a few layers of varnish spray to seal in all that hard work! 


The best part is when the client gets to see the final piece and is really happy with it! It is one of the main reasons I create art...I love putting smiles on others' faces. The new painting owner can now experience the feeling of their own day on the beach in Hawaii without even leaving their house! 


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  • Jen on

    Thank you so much for sharing your process with us! I absolutely love your work. You’re inspiring me to want to paint again! : )

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