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Commission for my client in Brisbane by Marlene Millard

Commission for my client in Brisbane by Marlene Millard

Commission for my client in Brisbane by Marlene Millard

As with painting anything, the first step is to familiarise myself with the subject. The original photo was supplied to me by the client and I was very pleased that it was of decent quality. As a farmers' daughter I already had some knowledge of tractors, which helped. The clients' wish was for an Acrylic painting on Canvas.

Initial Image sent from client


Next step is to draw the scene on paper. I decided to use a grid as the equipment is quite intricate and I wanted to make sure I got it accurate. This is simple lead pencil on layout paper and the next step is to transfer the image onto the stretched canvas. Having fun working the tyre treads.


Image is transferred onto the canvas with charcoal which leaves feint lines. I darken the lines with a very watery thin acrylic mix. I use Atelier Interactive Artists Acrylics. Just enough colour to give a hint of what is to come. In this photo I have started the sky, but more to do.


A little more on the sky and a total block-in of everything else except the tractors. This is actually called 'negative space' because the main subject is actually left blank while everything around is emerging. The background earth is still painted pretty thinly. It's good to get shadows in at this stage as they help to 'ground' the machinery. You have to constantly be aware of the whole scene even when working on small parts at a time. Everything has to be kept in perspective. The skin tones happened quickly and easily. Look at all those tyres!


The sky is finished! Everything else is still a work in progress. It's good to get to this stage as you can begin to see the potential. It's exciting to see the subjects emerge from the white canvas. A little more work on the background earth and some colour into the equipment. I love to get some darks happening early as it makes shapes start to take form by giving depth to the picture. I've started on the many layers to build up the tyres.

WIP #5

More work on the background earth and I'm pretty happy with that. Lots more detail on the equipment, which was a little tricky working out the angles and which frames were going where. I'm glad that the two tractors are different makes, I think that adds a bit more interest to the scene, being different shapes and colour. I use a very thin wash on the cabin glass and I'm so happy with it I might not touch the glass too much more. A bit more attention on the mens' skin colour and their heads, and I ground them by putting their boots on. More layers on the tyres.


This wasn't a very long session. More work on the tractors, mostly the red one giving it more definition.

I put in some darks to make the shadows ground the tractors. I had a break from the tyres.


I really get stuck into the tyres. They are all about tone: dark and light giving the knobs form. I've been pushing them back and pulling them forward with each layer until they are right. I name the Case IH, which feels like a milestone. All the equipment is checked to make sure it looks accurate. Final refinement over all of the equipment and both tractors making sure that the lights, mirrors, hoses, bars, angles, colours, curves, shadows, highlights ........etc; work together well.


Now we're really getting to the nitty gritty. I get to put the little deer on the front of the John Deere tractor. Exciting! I work on the shadows, making sure they are accurate and work on the foreground. I add some clods to the earth which work well. I tone the tyre knobs down a bit so they look more used.

I leave it sit now before the final 'fine tuning'.

Photo #9

Here's the finished product!

60 x 45 cm Acrylic on Stretched Canvas.

I must say I quite enjoyed painting this. It was a little slow going because of all the detail, but I do thrive on detail! 

Contact Charles@outbackcreative.com.au if you would like a commission done.