From Start to Finish: A Life of a Painting (John the Baptist)

Here is an overview of the start to finish process of painting John the Baptist (Seize the Day). I have submitted this to the Northwest Biennial 2011 (crossing fingers).

After I prep the canvas mounted on hardboard, I sand the surface in several grits and begin drawing the composition.

Pencil drawing, using the original study/sketch as a reference.

Check out my little lamb (symbolizing Jesus…remember my intentions are not to glorify rteligious figures. Just an important reference to art history).


Since I’m trying to create a patina look in the background, I paint that first. I block in the appropriate color in 5 layers, waiting to dry in between. I ultimately use 4 colors, 5 layers each.

It takes a lot of elbow grease to practice such technique.

I associate specific colored borders for each color layers, creating a unique line of multiple colors after the sanding has been done.

To get some work out of the way, I block in colors on the bottom since it needed several layers due to the transparency of the pthalo green.

I begin sanding from grit 600, then up. It takes personal experience to know which grit to start from and how long you must sand before each transition. This technique has been inspired to me by Takashi Murakami, who has borrowed this idea from Nihonga (japanese painting) techniques.

Here’s what it looks like after I sand through many different layers of color. This is why I love acrylics, so versatile!

Once I have reached the desired effects of the sanding and oscillating hues, I begin painting in the rest of the painting. Keeping in mind of certin transparent pigments, some blocked in colors may take several layers.

I always block in colors first before I add any type of borders.

I love anime art. I try to incorporate that in fine arts.
The completed painting.

The rest relies on basic painting techniques. I utilize gold leaf gilding techniques that reflects Japanese art techniques and religious art history. I place a lot of research into my subject matter as well. I believe anyone can make a great painting if you can put your heart, knowledge, blood, sweat, and soul into it. Think about all the formal elements of art and the compositional balance.



About Julian Peña

I'm a visual artist and student currently in progress to attaining a Bachelors of Fine Arts. I've been creating fantastical works of art since I was at the age of 13 years old. My work is transcendent beyond the material world and life itself. The paintings are polychromatic and visually exciting, while still maintaining a level of harmony. The subjects in many of these works of art may not exist at all despite what we perceive. It is a play on perception, an attempt to engage the viewers. I has earned numerous scholarships, participated in several group exhibitions, and already organized my own solo exhibition (CMYK, 2011). My meticulous and unique style is visually arresting. New ideas are constantly being examined and then visually communicated. Come check out my works at! I am is also currently part of the 253 Collective (a co-op) in downtown Tacoma. I currently live and work out of my loft in downtown Tacoma, WA.

Drop me a line!

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