Using digital and analog techniques to prep for a new project—guess which thumbs were done by hand and which were done digitally!

Last month I completed a painting commission for the new Ace Hotel in New Orleans. The project consisted of two sets of large panels that were then inlaid into the guest room armoires. The brief was a dream: painterly Louisiana landscapes in rich, earthy colors.
Ace Hotel NOLA Sketch

To begin, I created small thumbnail sketches for the client. After they were approved and the panels were unpacked from the crate and on the easel, I made a few more thumbs to make sure I was on track with the proportions of the image and because the image was split down the middle in its life as an armoire door.

This project was unusual for me in that it was the first time I combined digital painting with traditional painting in my process leading up to a traditional painting. The final product here—the door panels—were all done by hand. But the concepting and sketching were done with a combination of sketches done in Photoshop and by hand.

I’ve been working for some time on teaching myself how to paint in Photoshop. For anyone who thinks it’s easier than painting traditionally or somehow cheating, I can assure you it’s not. I’m actually often amazed by how two completely different things they are—everything from choosing brushes to mixing colors to zooming in and out (vs pacing the floor back and forth, back and forth) is completely new and super challenging. I’ve really felt these last years when painting in Photoshop that I’ve had to learn how to paint all over again.

So—which thumbs were painted by hand and which were painted in Photoshop? The bottom three in the photo above are digital. 🙂

Ace Hotel New Orleans paintings in progress

Studio paint

Ace Hotel New Orleans paintings in progress