Lately I've received countless emails (one actually...) asking me how I work, so I thought I'd post a quick step by step on my completely backwards process.
I almost always work on birch panels. I like the way they feel (no give) more than canvas and since I often glue down old paper it's a much easier process. I apply a light coat of water to the board, then glue, then paper. I'll wet the paper lightly too before rolling it out flat and setting it aside under a few heavy books to dry. Once it is, I'll lay down a few coats of clear gesso, sanding lightly between each coat. Lately I've been sealing each panel with Matte Medium in place of gesso.
Step 2- The sketch
The title says it all.
Step 2- Color study.
I like to plan my colors carefully before I paint, so often I'll do a very quick color study in Illustrator.
Meet Vidal. This ain't no mamby pamby hair drier like the ones they make now a days. This sucker will burn your scalp off if you hold it too close. Besides letting me feather my bangs like a Partridge, it speeds things up for me. I can lay down a coat of paint or matte medium, blast it, and move on.
Step 4 and 5-Background
In this case I started with tissue paper. A light coat of matte medium, tissue, and more medium. This time I coat the panel with it. Why? Well, once the matte medium is dry (the longer the better) it creates a very nice barrier for the next layer. If I mess up on the next layer, and I work fast I can often rub it off with a very wet paper towel. Next the pink clouds, the white lines, and you guessed it, another coat of matte medium.
Step 6-Everything else
Once the background is complete I usually layout the rest of the image with a colored pencil (I use Mongels) that will wash off with water. Anytime I'm happy with what's going on I'll hit the whole panel with matte medium, let it dry, and move on. It's the closet thing I've found to an "undo" button.
Honestly I got so into painting I forgot to take more pictures, but there's not much else to it. I did the head with another piece of cut paper and the eyes with a circle template I dry-brushed through. The hat is tissue paper.