I've always wanted large art pieces, but I could never justify paying for one at my age. Why not just do it myself. A month ago I found a 9' x 12' canvas painter's drop cloth, a picture of a bull and a couple worn out sharpies. The piece below took roughly a month to complete, working on it a few days after work. It started as a large mural and then last minute I made a 5' x 8' stretcher and stretched the piece over it. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Day 1 - Hung the tarp on a wall with some small nails. Grabbed a sharpie and began drawing a bull image from google. I wish I had put plastic on the wall before starting...it bled through slightly, but nothing that can't be fixed.
Days 2 - 4 The neck appeared to be the most intricate, so I focused most of my time refining the values and shape of the neck to give it depth. I added a touch of white pen to the nose and neck to bring them forward.
Days 5 -10 I added more detail to the face, horns and stripes coming down the side of the bull's shoulder and stomach. Struggled with the left ear. I believe I was focusing too much on what I thought it should look like versus what I saw in the image. I like the spots on the shoulder, the layers of values on the horns and the neck. It has been hard to make the right side of the face stand out against the neck. I darkened the neck as much as I could without loosing too much detail. I didn't want the cow to be on a boring white background so I have made short horizontal lines. The objective was to make it light behind the cow and progressively darker towards the sides.
Days 11 - 14 - Went through about 4 sharpies adding many layers to the background. I dedicated most of my time to the stomach area, making it darker until I felt that its depth was even with the neck. I lightly touched the upper back to provide texture.
Day 15 - I decided to test my wood working skills and make a 5' x 8' stretcher. The image below is before I put in a center support. The stretcher was made with a pocket hole jig, and 1" x 4" pine boards. I wish I would have made the stretcher roughly a foot taller.
Day 16 - You can see I added in a center support, and pulled the canvas over the stretcher. I used small nails to position the image and adjust tightness. I used a large upholstery stapler to fix the canvas the to the stretcher. I then removed the nails and trimmed the excess canvas.
Day 17 - I added eye screws to the upper portions of each side, braided wire with crimps, and a large drywall anchor to hang the piece on the wall. It has been a great challenge and a nice break from my regular work.
I have learned that you can only add detail during the process so take your time and do it well, because once you are finished, you can't go back. Your effort is shown in front of you and you know where you could have done better.
I am excited to start another piece and this time I will take the time to be more detailed in the earlier stages. I think this will give the artwork a greater presence.