Building Backgrounds

One way that I go about making my paintings is by painting a whole background first. It’s not always possible but when the project allows for it it’s very satisfying. It’s a little bit like laying a foundation for a building. The vibe you set in your background sets the mood for the finished painting. 

Sometimes, when hanging with friends or family, people ask if they can help by doing backgrounds for me. I hardly want to share because this is the fun part! Seriously though, it’s a great way to include my kids and people I care about in the art that I love.


If you use plastic wrap on wet paint it creates all kinds of cool textures. Sprinkle a little salt to get interesting and as it melts it spreads and blends the paint in ways a brush never could. 

One time we accidentally spilled a glass of wine and just worked it into the overall backdrop for the actual painting. I always keep a water spray bottle on hand to mist a wet canvas and watch while the paint swirls around and settles in beautiful and new layers. Prepping a canvas for a background is a great time to experiment with oil pours too. 

Sometimes I think I know where a painting is going then as the background comes together I see something in the shapes on the canvas and another piece of art entirely is born. 

So much of this stage of the process is devoted to the simple and intuitive joy of painting. You can just have fun with colors on the canvas and see where it takes you.

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