How to… paint in a jungle background

This should really be called a “How I…” instead of a “How to…”.
I am sure that there are many ways to successfully paint a jungle background.

However, this guide shows you how I have achieved the background
on my current project,
along with some hints and tips to achieve a really professional finish.

You will need:

  • Your marked up canvas
  • Your photograph (with gridlines drawn on)
  • Lots of colours of acrylic paint
    (Blog to come about my favourite staple colours that every art box needs.)
  • A palette (I use empty foil dishes from quiches. My parents are quiche fans!)
  • Water
  • Masking tape
  • A variety of sizes of paintbrushes
  • A playmat!
    Before the existance of my playmat (a 2m squared wipable table cloth) I was not popular with my mum as my painting studio of choice is the lounge floor.
    Hello paint on the carpets!
  1. Masking tape along major outlines. Masking tape is a great way to contain your colour. I use it in copious amounts on nearly every painting I do.

    Here you can see I have masking taped along the logs before I paint the background

  2. Create a colour wash over the whole background. This is a thin layer of background colour which is spread across the whole background. Try holding the picture up to the light and see for the areas you can see through which need more colour.

    Here you can see I have painted in dark greens and purpley blacks around the lemur.

  3. Make sure you paint the sides of the canvas. It is a pet HATE of mine when I see beautiful paintings with scruffy sides. It completely detracts from the painting and it is just plain lazy. It takes two minutes more to paint the sides. DO IT!!

    Here you can see I am extending my colour wash around the sides of the painting.

  4. Start with the out of focus details first. Using a small round brush and referring back to your grid, sponge in splatters of varying yellows, greens browns and deep purples. My favourite to use are emerald green, raw sienna brown and burgandy.

    Here you can see the yellow and green smudges I am starting in the jungle background.

  5. Continue with the soft focus areas, using a variety of colours and shades. Don’t mind if your hands get messy or it doesn’t look perfect, this is the impressionist part.

    Here you can see I have copied the photograph using a variety of colours

  6. Use a variety of different paintbrushes… or fingers and sponges.  I always use my fingers to achieve a really smooth finish by rubbing paint into my canvas.

    Here you can see that I use my fingers to rub paint into the canvas.

  7. On areas of more detail, refer back to your grids in detail. If necessary, masking tape lines back in to make sure that leaves etc are in the right areas to get a truly photographic image. Use a thinner paintbrush with a round edge to paint in detailed lines.

    Here you can see I have used greens, purples, white and black to create leaves.

  8. To paint a log… Re-masking tape the area, slightly overlapping the jungle background to avoid any white lines. Mix up a range of different browns and creams, and don’t be afraid to use purples, pinks and blues in the mix. Use your fingers to really massage the paint in to allow for seamless shading around the log.

    Here you can see I re-masking taped the area, to avoid paint leaking.

  9. Remove masking tape to check on your progress, and paint on details.
    A trick I use is to use the opposite end of the paintbrush to scratch into the canvas to create a wood texture.

    Here you can see that I have finished the background.

    And now for the difficult part. The lemur.
    Although hopefully, for me, that is the easiest part.
    Leaves took me out of my comfort zone, but I think I did a good job.
    Thoughts? 

    I should have a lot of time this weekend to create my lemur,
    so that the painting is ready for my colleague upon her return from holiday.

    Stay Tuned! 🙂

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