In the Head

Before I put brush to canvas a lot has already happened in my brain. I visualise the painting, play with the composition and consider options – all in my head.

In this blog I will lead you through my process for creating a “Sue Hodge masterpiece”. The painting I am working on is a commissioned work and the client wants something rural based featuring the colours and life in the country.


Naturally with spring in full bloom, so there is lots of inspiration around. I’ve chosen a wheat field in a contemporary impressionism style.  A farmer maybe deeply concerned as there will be paterson’s curse and dandelions growing in the crop. There will be bees, bugs and grasshoppers also at work. I have a lot of fun day dreaming about what could be in a small patch of paddock.

So much life and fun can be captured making the creative process extremely enjoyable and fascinating. Having fun whilst painting is important to me because it will come through in the finished work. Now that the thinking, imagining, dreaming stage is done it is time for the doing stage.

Down to Business

It is essential that I get the base and background right. Generally, if I get the background right the rest will flow.

For the sky I put a blue wash down to make the rest of the paint stand out. The sky has a very bright sun in it with blue broad brush strokes to emphasise movement and motion and is inspired by Van Gogh skies. I love Van Gogh. Once I’m happy with the sky I move on to the horizon. Using the one third rule – one third from the top I put in a curved horizon line. This gives it that impressionistic style.  “What I feel rather than what is real” is how I describe impressionism.

 The Horizon line has a thin orange line across it to connect it with the sun’s light. The curve of the earth in a portrait format creates more depth in the painting. So moving down the picture starting with lighter coloured wheat I move forward. I need to take care not to clutter the space so the main feature plants (paterson’s curse), animals and bugs will be visible. The bugs will be subtle, producing a game of “spot the bug”. This makes it fun and interesting for the viewer. 

Enter the painting

So there are 3 sections. The Sky, the mid-ground, and the foreground. The foreground will have several striking wheat stalks and a feature paterson’s curse plant. The Paterson’s curse plant is the focus of the composition and leads your eye in and through the painting. 

As you look and travel into the painting more and more can be discovered.  Amongst the plants are grasshoppers, ladybugs, bees, spiders, maybe a mouse or two and ants etc. 

So the goal is a fun, enjoyable painting with pleasant surprises, loads of life and subtle activity, presented with Colour | Movement | Passion.

Hope you can enjoy the process and the finished work.