How I painted this commission piece of Mount Royal

How I painted this commission piece of Mount Royal

I’ve recently completed this commission for a good friend of mine. I absolutely loved this one because it was all about capturing a special memory and place. After months of travel, Mount Royal (and Canada in general) was somewhere he wanted to remember most and I was the one he trusted with capturing it. 

I was tasked with painting a snowy Canadian landscape, which I went into with both nerves and excitement as it’s quite far from the type of painting I would usually create. Quite a bit larger too. But, I’m always up for a challenge and an opportunity to improve my creative skills. 

The Process

The piece is painted on A2 stretched canvas, which I prepped and primed using white gesso paint. I then started by washing the entire canvas with a sienna colour. I chose this colour because the majority of the painting is cool-toned so I wanted to create contrast to ensure I covered every inch of the canvas and could also better focus on details. I then used a slightly darker shade to map out the general shapes of the whole piece. 

Once prepped, I began the painting with the snowy areas in the foreground.  My top tip for painting snowy areas (particularly from a reference image) is to use a colour picker tool to get a more accurate idea of the tones. I’ve found that when looking at a photo of snow the colours are much more blue and lilac than you first realise. I do this by putting the reference image into Procreate on my iPad and using the colour picker tool in that, but there are also ways to do this on a phone or computer. 

When I had put in the majority of the snowy area I then began on the buildings – at this stage just painting in the basic structure and leaving the details to the end. Next was the sky and clouds. The sky started at quite a bright orange but I later soften that to make it fit better with the tone of the whole piece.

Once I was happy with that I added the tree line and all the other trees and greenery dotted around. I wanted to make a feature of the buildings so placed the trees in a way that I felt framed those. 

To finish I added all the last details to tie everything together. This included defining the windows and general structure of the building (I chose a deep blue and white to stand out against the dark green tree line), adding snow to the trees and, painting in little silhouetted people. 

Painting of Montreal, Canada by Emma Holmes

The Tools & Products

(Some of these contain affiliate links)

Being trusted with a piece as special as this is really daunting and there were several moments of self-doubt, thinking I hadn’t done a good enough job but, the customer loves it so now I can too.

If you’re interested in getting a piece commissioned by me please get in touch via ★

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