Painting process video: The making of “Nourishing Heart”

Published by Nela Dunato on in Art, Creative process, Video

Painting process video - The making of Nourishing Heart

I finally managed to put together a video of my painting process!

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The video is sped up 40 times, and what you can see here in 13 minutes was actually created over the course of 4 days.

You can see the finished work in my gallery:

Nourishing Heart by Nela Dunato
“Nourishing Heart” by Nela Dunato. Acrylic on canvas, 40x50cm.

Filming it was difficult and frustrating, as the photo camera I was filming it with could only shoot 25-minute clips at a time, so in the end I had over 40 clips shot over the span of 4 days that I had to put together. I suppose I won’t be doing more of these until I get a proper camera with HD video filming capabilities.

In any case, I hope this video will satisfy your curiosity about my painting process :)

Now to explain the process a bit…

In the beginning of the video I showed my preparations, which are as follows:

  1. Rough sketches to note the idea when I first think of it, and thumbnails to decide on the composition.
  2. Gathering reference images from books and internet, and photographing my own model. In this case I tried out around 50 different hand poses in various lighting conditions before deciding on the backlit pose I liked the best. However, my favorite one was blurry so I had another similar pose that was clearer for the detail.
    I tend to copy my own model photos more or less accurately, and other reference photos serve me to see how colors, light and texture work in real-world objects so that my own creations have a dose of realism.
  3. Creating studies. I did many studies of the trees, a few studies of the heart morphing into a tree and the hand holding the heart, before I started working on the final study in the same size as my painting. In this study I made sure all the proportions are correct and shadows were placed in correct places. The tree and heart shape are invented, though I did my best to make it realistic.
  4. Preparing the paper for tracing. I put my study and a thin sheet of newsprint paper on the window and traced the outlines. Then I covered the other side of the paper with charcoal. You can see me in the video around 2:50 placing this paper over the canvas and going over the lines with colored pencil so that the charcoal transfers onto the canvas.
    After several different approaches to painting, I realized that the best one is where I make a 1:1 drawing before and get all the proportions right before I commit to painting. That way I can focus on value and color in my painting.

I started by painting the background, but you can see me working again on the background in the end. I call this “poor planning”, since I have started with a background that was a bit too dark in the middle.

In one moment you can see me going around the canvas with an eraser, because I was removing the charcoal residues. You can also see me drawing lightly with charcoal pencil, adding tree branches here and there and drawing the hand where I have accidentally wiped it off during painting.

I hope you enjoyed this video! If you have any questions, or perhaps tips on how I can improve my creation process (or videos), do let me know in the comments!

If you’re learning how to paint in acrylic and are wondering how I paint the skin, go check out my post How I paint skin tones in acrylic where I wrote about this in more detail.


Some blog articles contain affiliate links to products on Amazon or Jackson's Art Supplies. I’ll get paid a few cents if you buy something using my link, and there’s no extra charge to you.

2 responses to “Painting process video: The making of “Nourishing Heart””

  1. Izgleda jednostavno,ali opet…
    Kao da unaprijed znaš što ćeš naslikati.
    Da li tvoje slike predstavljaju tebe
    onako kako bi htjela?

  2. Zapravo i znam unaprijed :)
    Za većinu svojih slika dobijem viziju koja je “gotova”, samo je na meni da je prenesem u djelo na najbolji mogući način.. naravno detalji su na meni, ali koncept kao takav ne mijenjam bitno.

    Pošto je motivacija iza mojih slika nesvjesna, ja to tumačim kao osvještavanje zatomljenih dijelova osobnosti koji su spremni pojaviti se na površini i biti integrirani u to tko ja jesam.
    Nisam još radila slike sebe kakva bih ja željela biti, ali igrala sam se sa nekim sličnim stvarima i svakako ću s time eksperimentirati i dalje pa možda i objavim nešto od toga.

    Ova dva procesa su obrnuta, u jednom slika dolazi prva, ali njeno tumačenje shvaćam kako radim na njoj, a u drugom polazim od željenog značenja pa iz njega proizlazi slika koja se s vremenom razvija.
    Kao dva smjera komunikacije izmežu unutrašnjeg i vanjskog.
    Nadam se da sam dobro objasnila?

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