Other Panda Worlds

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tiny Wonderland :: PandaErica :: Process

Hello Panda People,

It's been a year and a day, but I am back and I have great news to share with you. I'll be showing a triptych of three tiny paintings at Leanna Lin's Wonderland's new show, 'Tiny Wonderland: Great Things in Small Packages'. It will be opening this Saturday, September 9th and will run until October 23rd.

In anticipation of the show's opening night, that I sadly will not be able to attend, I felt it could be fun to show everyone my thought process that went into creating my final 3 paintings for the show. When I first got the acceptance email that I was going to be in the show and received the details and specs for the paintings (no artist was allowed to submit more than 3 paintings maximum and each painting could be no larger than 5x5 inches framed) I thought that these 3 paintings would take me no more than maybe 2 weeks tops. In the end it took me about a little more than a month to finish these three tiny paintings from conception to final, framed painting.
Let me first begin by showing you the very initial page of sketchbook I dedicated to the Tiny Wonderland project (right). I wrote the name of the show down and wrote all the words that just flowed from my head that I associated with the show name. I immediately stuck to the word "house". And from there I knew I wanted to created tiny houses of some sort. "What would live in these tiny houses?" I asked myself. Tiny animals. DUH.

Now, this doesn't happen very often when I'm planning out a very intense project. I hardly ever find that my first sketch ideas are the best nor are they the sketches that I end up turning into the final pieces. But in this instance, that's exactly what ended up happening. I started with these super, teeny, tiny thumbnails sketches of a bunny burrow, some of the first few words I jotted down. And from there I developed what would then become the basis of the 3 triptych paintings: a bedroom/living room, a kitchen/dining room, and a surprise super fun dance hall at the end.

I began sketching during my commutes to and from work and also during my lunch breaks at my day job. I also started researching different interior design across the decades. I created something of a mood board with a mix of 40's and 70's interior design. The top row (above) of sketches were done just off the top of my head after some light perusing through google search for different interior designs through the decades. The bottom row (above) were informed sketches with photo references clear in my mind. I ended up going with the bottom 40's inspired bedroom and kitchen scenes since they felt more dynamic and gave a deeper sense of depth than the other sketches. This idea of large rooms in tiny paintings and a depth perception one would experience when looking at the paintings really intrigued me. Little paintings, big rooms. 

I also started pulling lots of images of the animals I wanted to include include in the finale disco party scene. I went to the American History Museum to take some pictures of some of their awesome animal scenes. I tried to draw inspiration from many different sources.

And let's not forget the fun, patterned, crazy-colored, sequined and shiny disco attire! Fashion was kind of wacky but so much fun back in the disco era. :)


Based on some friends and co-workers suggestions I decided it would be more engaging for the audience/art viewers to add animal characters into all three of the paintings, not just in the finale dance party scene. After I gave it some thought, I decided to add some animals getting ready for the party in the bedroom and some party guests toasting some bubbly drinks in the kitchen. 

Next was color and for about a week I took my tray or Caran d'ache crayons with me and my portable water brush to work on these rough color studies (above) that developed into the final color studies (below).

I ended up changing the ferret getting dressed in the first painting to be a mouse since I thought the silhouette of that animal would be instantly recognizable with its big ears, long nose, and skinny pink tail. I had to think of what would be easiest to understand at such a small size and the ferret just wasn't doing that. 

I also ended up going back into the color study for the second painting. The first initial study (left) first had yellow walls (right), but once I added the characters and their bright costumes into the scene I felt that all of the bright saturated colors was just too much. I went back into the first study and painted the left wall blue and went with the overall more toned down earthy tones.

I didn't have much trouble seeing the colors in the final scene. I knew I wanted it to be the most saturated and brightest colors of the three. It would also be the painting that was set with darker values overall with mid-key and low-key lights which I don't usually do much in my paintings, so I was pretty excited to get started on the last painting. But I decided to paint the disco scene last in order to keep that excited energy running throughout all three paintings.

And here is the result of all of this process work—the final paintings! I'm very pleased with the way they turned out and I hope everyone who goes to see the show can feel how much fun I had painting them. Feel free to send me an email if you would like to purchase the actual paintings or just one of the three. They're framed in 5x5 inch black frames (below) and they come with their own mounting hooks.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the making of these three tiny paintings exploring a tiny wonderland underground. :) If you're in the Eagle Rock, CA area while the show is running please swing by and take some pictures of the paintings for me!

Until next time, folks. Thanks again for reading this very long post.


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