Mohamed's Gallery









3) Gallery Canvas Square


5) Sketch

6 & 7) Staining &


8) Underpainting

9) Painting Sides

10) Adding Details

11) Critique at the EAC

12 & 13) Isolation Coat &


14) This is going to

hang in a very

special place

Start To Finish

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Often, I am asked to explain my process of painting. At my last art show, a collector

mentioned that she had fallen in love with a pair of hummingbirds frequenting her

backyard and she commissioned me to paint those for her. This project I thought would

be ideal to explain my approach to painting.

A painting goes through several phases, I have summarized them below and have provided some

explanation and photographs at each stage. As you may appreciate, a painting as small as this takes

several weeks to complete

1) Reference photos: I was provided with a few sample photographs of the hummingbirds. The collector

needed a small painting which would hang in a spot she had in mind.

2) Theme/ Narrative/ Name: The painting has to do with a pair of birds, probably a male and female, I

imagine love blossoming between the birds.  I decided to paint a scene depicting the love between the

birds and the surrounding, in a heart shaped composition. I called the painting "Fern's Hummers"

3) Format: Love meant a heart shaped motif, which, therefore required a square format of canvas to paint

on. Also since the size had to be small, I decided to use a 10 in X10in. gallery canvas with painting carried

on to the sides  which would not require a frame.

4) Research: My research on hummingbirds showed two varieties of hummingbirds frequent Alberta. Of

these, the ruby throated being more colourful was my choice for the painting. The male being more

colourful than the female became the star of the piece.o

5) Sketches: A few sketches and thumbnails are done to work out the composition, values (darks & lights)

and placement of the subjects. I decided to place the male on bottom right “sweet spot” longingly staring at

the female. The female on the top left is deciding between a mate and the nectar from the flowers. The

composition of the piece is roughly heart shaped

6) Staining: The white canvas is stained with the appropriate light colours to “shine through” and create a

mood. In this case I decided on a early morning scene with a pale yellow glow of the sun in the left upper

corner, shining through some morning haze. The glow then changes to peach and then light blue of the


7) Drawing:  A quick drawing on the canvas to place the subjects.

8) Underpainting: This is the ugly stage of the painting where there is no detail just the content.

9) Painting the sides: The sides are painted for a finished look. This then does not require a frame.

10) Painting the details: The Painting comes to life once the details are added on in several successive


11) Critique: Since one has been involved with the painting for so long, it is easy to get jaded. The

painting is put away for a couple of days. A fresh look including inverting the painting, looking at its image

in the mirror may reveal some minor problems which may need correction. Often I take the painting to the

art club to be professionally critiqued. Here it is being critiqued at the Edmonton Art Club.

12) Isolation coat: Once all is set to go. An isolation coat is applied to isolate the painting from the

varnish which will be applied after the isolation coat has dried, about 48 hours.

13) Varnish:  Varnish with UV coating is applied in two coats, letting the first coat dry before applying the

second. This protects the painting for several decades from dust, dirt and fading from the UV rays.

14) Presentation: The best part for the last. To watch the reaction of the collector when they see the

painting for the first time. In my enthusiasm, I often forget to record this step on the camera.