I try to look at what I'm painting and figure out how to put more details into the composition and still make it "work." While I like detail, I don't want my compositions to feel cluttered. So I always talk it over with myself and figure out where I can put additional elements. If there's a fence in the background, what can I put on each fence post? Maybe I could put a pumpkin or a bucket full of apples? Or if there's a tree, what could hang from the tree or be in the tree? Maybe some stars, an owl or a cat? I also like to create very intricate clothing for my characters and add all sorts of fun animals and creatures.
In terms of original painting sizes, I actually paint quite small. Most of the paintings I create are 8x10." So it's sometimes a challenge to be able to fit everything that I thought up into such a small space. What I've started doing is thumbnail drawings just to work out composition. Seems pretty basic huh? But I always skipped that step even though all the drawing and composition books I've ever read tell you to do that first. I always like to skip the prep and the testing and just dive into things. But I find that the thumbnail sketches have aided me a lot in creating very complex and detailed compositions that are pleasing to the eye.
Of course everyone has different tastes when it comes to artwork. Some people prefer more simplistic work. And honestly, I try to run the gamut when it comes to complexity. I do have some more simplistic pieces, like my portrait series, that don't have any background elements and are fairly simple. But the more detailed pieces are the ones that I really thrive on. I just think that when you look at a detailed piece, you get sucked into it and you keep exploring and finding new things. I will have people look at a painting of mine that they've seen multiple times before, but all of a sudden find something new and say, "I've never noticed that before!" That's just so fun to me.
I thought that I would show you some of my most detailed pieces that I've worked on to date:
Aelita and Jax
This is definitely one of my most complex pieces. I decided I wanted to create a witch/Halloween piece with an Art Nouveau style background. So I came up with a black border incorporating many different animals and creatures like a cat, bat and spider. There are all sorts of things to discover in the border! The mosaic tiled circle with pumpkins on top was also quite fun to do. Then I placed my cute witch Aelita in the foreground holding her cat Jax.
This is sort of a follow up to my Aelita and Jax piece. I thought it would be fun to follow the same style, but create a mermaid version. So I decided to create the border out of coral and seashells. I tried to make it really intricate with all sorts of details to look at. Then I placed my mermaid Amara with her turtle friend in the foreground.
This was such a fun piece to work on. I really wanted to create a Thanksgiving themed mermaid piece. I wasn't quite sure how to pull it off, so I started thinking, "How could a mermaid celebrate Thanksgiving?" Well, I thought she might have a feast with all of her land animal friends in a meadow by the river. I just loved thinking about all the animal friends that would be in attendance. Kiandra of course, brought the pumpkin for pumpkin pie.
This piece was a follow up to my Kiandra painting. I thought it would be fun to have a companion piece in the same sort of style for a Christmas mermaid. So again, I had to think about how a mermaid would celebrate Christmas. I definitely thought she would go decorate a Christmas tree with all of her woodland friends in a snowy forest! Of course, she couldn't get out of the water, so all of her animal friends are helping her decorate.
This was a commissioned painting. My client requested that I include six cats that had been very near and dear to her heart. She said that we could use only four if I couldn't fit in all six, but I couldn't stand the thought of having her choose which ones! My client requested a witch in a gothic type setting, So, I started thinking vertically. I thought that if I put the witch on a gothic throne with multiple stair levels, it would give me plenty of different places to put all of the kitties. I wanted to add more detail to his piece, so I drew a lot of intricate carving and Celtic braiding on the throne, added roses and vine work to the columns and beautiful fabric draped across the top. I'm happy to say that all six kitties made it into the painting!