In the slideshow below you can see the progression of the painting from the beginning to the end. Feel free to stop the slideshow to view an image more closely. Photo number one shows you the sand, gesso and frosting bag I used.
Step 1, I first planned out my painting by doing a simple sketch. This helped me decide what parts I wanted to have in 3D. ( see photo number 2)
Step 2, I mixed sand with gesso in a disposable cup. I used a coarse sand I bought at an arts and craft store. The gesso I used is Liquitex Basics. Once I was satisfied with the thickness of the mixture I put it into a cake decorating frosting bag with a large round tip (See photo number 1). This allows me to control where I want the mixture to go. Next I squeeze out the mixture onto my canvas in the areas I've planned for, the coral, the belly and front flipper of the lower turtle and the shell and front flipper of the upper turtle. Using a pallet knife, I gently spread the mixture or separated it as needed. I let this dry for a couple of days until the mix is completely set.
Step 3, The dried sand/gesso is now hard as a rock and quite coarse, The texture is perfect for the coral but not the turtles. So I added a layer of just gesso onto the turtles. I also added gesso to the back lower flipper of the bottom turtle, both turtle necks, the under belly of the upper turtle, the outer shell of the lower turtle, the seaweed and the sea foam at the top of the painting (see photo number 4). I then let it dry a full day. The turtles were still to coarse so I sanded off some of the roughness and added another layer of gesso. I repeated this step twice more, until I got the level of smoothness I was wanting. In all I have one layer of sand/gesso and four layers of just gesso (see photo number 5). At this point I have five days into this painting.
Step 4, Time to start painting. The colors I chose for my underpainting are phthalo green, phthalo blue and titanium white. Starting at the top of my canvas I applied a light shade of the three colors and gradually darkened the mix as I came down the canvas. I used a 1 1/2 inch wash brush to apply the paint. ( see photo number 6). I dried this fist application with a hair dryer then added another layer of paint. Again I used my hair dryer to speed the drying. I then went over all the coral and seaweed with titanium white and started detailing the sea foam at the top of the canvas. ( see photo 7).
Step 5, Using cad yellow and cad red I painted the coral. This part is a bit challenging because it takes a lot of effort to get the paint into the tiny crevasses. I had to do a few thin layers, turning my canvas sideways and upside down to completely cover the coral. Then I painted the seaweed, But once it dried I didn't like the color I chose so I redid it in green. ( See photos 8 and 9).
Step 6, The turtles were next. I started with the lower one. I did his belly first using cad yellow, burnt sienna and orange. For the green area i used phthalo green and cad yellow. For the flippers I painted them in with phthalo green, phthalo blue and titanium white. The painted the spots with paynes gray. I painted his head last using all the colors I used for his body. ( see photo 10 ).
Step 7, On to the second turtle. For this one I started with his flippers and then shell. I left the head for last and I used all the colors that are in the first turtle. (see photo 11).
Step 8, This is my last step. I went over everything making sure all the crevasses were completely covered and adjusted highlights and shadows. ( see photo 12). It's now ready for varnish. I'm using a semi gloss varnish for this painting.