The Painting Process

Step 1 - Drawing using a brush and oil paint

Step 1 – Drawing using a brush and oil paint

The Drawing

Every new painting is not only a new creation but also a learning experience. In my continuous quest to experiment and push myself as an artist, I might not always start a painting the same way and it might not always end as originally envisioned or planned.

The Vine Walkway is my latest painting finished last month. It has already been accepted into The Great Outdoors Annual Spring Show at the Dutch Art Gallery in Dallas, Texas opening May 17, 2014.

Every week, I will post the different steps taken to arrive to the finished version. And in every step, I will write what I did and, may be, what I would change if I was to paint it again.

STEP 1: Here is how it started! On the first day, I grabbed a Bright brush #4, Burnt Sienna and white oil paints.  I started drawing directly on a canvas 36×24 inches . I usually do not add as many details as I did here in this first sketch. I opt instead for blocking the different areas in “darks” and “lights”; however, on that particular day, I was in what I would call a “drawing zone” and I simply lost count of time and sense of the diminutive. While I do not find a detailed drawing as necessary for the first sketch, I have learned to let my artistic desire of the day to take its course. If drawing with my brush was the “taste of the day”, so let it be!

I must admit that the detailed drawing gave me a good idea of how it was going to look; however, it didn’t necessarily made the subsequent painting easier. If I was to paint it again, I would probably come out of the “drawing zone” a little bit sooner. The main fact was that the perspective seemed correct so I was ready to continue with Step 2: Adding colors and start modeling shapes.


step 2

Step 2 included painting the green foliage along the path

After looking at the sketch, I decided there were two areas that would require more details and consequently more time and several coats of paint. The green foliage along the path and the vines on top.  I started with the green foliage in the foreground because it seemed it would go faster and easier. Sometimes I like to get a sense of achievement and I felt that part of the painting would accomplish that goal. I squirted different green, blue, and red oil paints such as permanent green, pthalo green, olive, madder red, pthalo blue and indigo as well as yellow and white. In essence, my palette that day was the primary colors plus the additional greens. After painting a dark base made of pthalo green, indigo and madder red, I added leaves with a lighter value wet on wet: more details in the foreground and almost none in the distance. I was aware that the light would filter through the vine on top so I highlighted some leaves to achieve that effect.

My favorite brushes are the Brights in the medium to small size and I usually accomplish all the foliage holding four to five Bright brushes in my hand each for a different color. I find this much easier than having to clean the brush when a different color is needed. Since I have a very soft touch, and working wet on wet, the leaves seem to just blend into place.

I had extra time that day so I started with the canopy posts. I highlighted the top of the posts with light blue to indicate the light and the bottom with green from the reflection of the foliage. This also helped to give them a rounded shape.

Step 3 was painting the vines above

Step 3 was painting the vines above


Without a doubt this was the most difficult step of all. I wanted to show the effect of the sunlight shinning from above and filtering in certain spots, and the entanglement of the vines had to make some sort of sense. I added light blues to the wood and the foliage, light yellows and light green. May be, I went overboard on the blue highlights, but I want to leave them as they are for the moment until the columns are painted.  When all the areas are complete, I will get a better sense of the ultimate colors I need. At the moment, the blues are distributed in strategic points above and alone the end of the walkway. I will have time to review them later.

The vine branches had to maintain their rounded shape and in order to achieve this, I placed dark against light, highlighting here and there.  It is the end of the summer season and some of the leaves are already changing colors and falling. I am still using the same colors and brushes from the beginning.

The only part left to add color at this point are the columns and walkway. They are white in real life, but they will be painted reflecting all the colors that surround them. I definitely know at this point, that I will come back to each area and build on it.


This was actually not one step but various ones! First I finished the white walls which have a mixture of many colors used in the other parts of the painting. Blues, purple, reds, yellows, pinks, and of course greens tinted the white to shape the columns and walls and account for the light filtering through the vines. Then I painted the walkway softening the colors to match the values found in the rest of the painting.

Final Version of The Vine Walkway by Hebe Brooks - Oil on linen 36x24

Final Version of The Vine Walkway by Hebe Brooks – Oil on linen 36×24


Once that first coat of colors was in place, I went over the entire painting a few times, pulling and pushing the values together to bring unison to the work. I softened some areas and highlighted others adding touches of light blue to the foliage in the foreground and to the vines on the top. I kept playing with layers of colors on the walls until they seemed to have a glow of their own. I left the details in the front but I lost a lot of them in the horizon to add to the perspective … and after many days of looking at it and retouching, it was sent off to its first show: The Great Outdoors at The Dutch Art Gallery in Dallas opening May 17, 2014.

It is said that artists leave a part of them in each painting and therefore, it is hard to let them go. However, as with people, each painting has its destiny and The Vine Walkway has a mind of its own!

The Vine Walkway can be purchased through the gallery. For additional information, please contact the artist.

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