Behind The Painting: Spiritual Awakening🔮
Here's a complete, in-depth explanation behind this large spacey themed piece.
What's it for?
My sister recently opened a nutrition bar a couple months ago, (Envision Nutrition) and felt like the place was missing something. Initially, she wanted a mural but the location has a wall with ridges and made it a little complicated to work with. We agreed on making a large canvas by the sitting area bar instead.
Brainstorming the composition was fairly easy. Essentially, I really wanted the piece to match the vibe. The décor of the shake bar's color scheme is purple, blue, gray, and gold. It has a natural feel to it; the place is decorated with crystals, plants, and inspirational quotes along the wall. Basically, when you walk in the shop, the feel is: cool, comforting, and uplifting. I wanted to engage the idea of "manifesting" or "future" - as it became my prompt while coming up with ideas for the composition.
While helping my sister open up the shake bar, I came up with a tradition that allowed her to engage with the customers. On Instagram, every morning she does a reels posting of her reading off manifestations that the customers write into our manifestation box. Which I called, "morning manifestation".
I wanted the painting to be in conjunction with the morning manifestation. She wanted me to integrate hands and eyes in the piece, similar to a tapestry she found online. However, I wasn't too keen on the eyes, or the tapestry's composition at least. I wanted it to be my own fresh idea. The shake bar had a lot of décor in the shape of an eye.
I said to her, "dude, there's already so many eyes in here. The customers are gonna come in and feel uncomfortable because everything is looking at them".
Having hands in the painting was a non negotiable for her. It needed to be integrated in the piece somehow. Or else. 👀
As I wanted to change up the idea, I knew I definitely wanted this piece to be a surprise. I had shown her little thumbnail sketches, but I did not go with any of those ideas since she was being very undecisive (apparently this is a quality all of my siblings have including myself). I needed to get this done as quickly as I could. I showed her designs like:
psychedelic eyes (in a very retro vibe)
Mystic landscape with a hand tree and an eye moon
(my personal favorite and I might paint later) A sunflower with eye petals
A big eye with stars in the galaxy (I hated that one)
Crappy brainstorming sketches down below
She didn't really like those ideas. She said that it would've been "too much" and "too weird". Which is understandable. I still think the ideas and the execution would've been fire though. But to each their own. Well, after we did not agree to a design, I was a little bummed out because I honestly was drawing blanks on other ideas.
Suddenly, while scrolling through my emojis while I was texting, a saw the crystal ball emoji 🔮. And right then and there, a light bulb went off in my head. I knew that I had to integrate a crystal ball in the painting. It worked perfectly, because I could add the hands into the design as well. Then my brain immediately thought of adding the 7 chakras along the bottom, which was fitting towards the theme. The chakras were actually a good touch - they are meant to identify and balance your body's energy points for your physical and mental well being. I told her, "alright, I know what to do now. Do you want it to be a surprise this time"? She agreed then.
Once I had a general idea of what I wanted it to look like, I quickly gathered supplies. If you're looking to get art supplies, I highly recommend jerry's artarama. It is a discounted art store, and if you sign up at the store for the discount card you'll receive 10% off every purchase. So, go ahead and take advantage of that. This is not an ad by the way.
(p.s. Jerry's please sponsor me I beg you!!!)
Anyways, here's what I used:
Fredrix - Unprimed Cotton Canvas roll
Liquitex - Basics Acrylic Gesso
Montana - GOLD Professional Acrylic Spray Paint
Montana - Acrylic Markers
Golden - High Flow Acrylic Inks
LUKAS CRYL - Studio Artist Acrylic Paint
Liquitex - Heavy Body Acrylics
SOHO Urban Artist - Heavy Body Acrylic Paint
Amsterdam - Standard Series Acrylic Paint
My brushes (random)
Clear matte varnish
Once I got a general idea of what I wanted, I sketched out the middle point. I had no idea what I wanted the background to look like, so I just ended up wingin' it.
First, I started spraying the canvas with water and grabbed my largest paint brushes (literally started using a thicc construction edging paint brush). I painted the background with blue acrylic paint on the left side of the canvas, painted the middle purple, and right side magenta. I wanted to give it a "fluid" like look, and layer it - I ended up spraying the paint to get that drippy effect. I tried to spray paint and then add water to it. It didn't get the result I wanted, and it pretty much ended up looking like a blob. I got annoyed and moved on to the crystal ball.
I took a white marker to sketch out the crystal ball and hands right onto the canvas. In one shot, the crystal ball was honestly the easiest part of the painting. However, the hands were just...puke 🤮. Every artist knows that painting/drawing hands is an absolute nightmare. Honestly, I've never been more disappointed in myself. I tried to save it by adding blue lines to them, to make it look like it was "sparking" up the crystal ball. It was just bad. So, I painted over it in white and moved on. I ended up adding the chakras to the bottom and colored them in. After that, I went back to the hands. It came out much better, but the first hand that is grabbing the crystal ball from the top, was so much more easier. The second hand...guess what? I had to paint over it in white AGAIN. I wasn't getting the placement I wanted. I had to take several pictures of my own hands grabbing something for reference. Even then, that itself barely helped. Only when I was completely done with the hands I ended up finding out from a tik tok that there is a 3d posing/reference app that I could've used (MagicPoser + Handy). It would have been so helpful and I could have saved myself so much time :/
Anyways, once I finished up with the hands, I wanted the hands to contrast with the background. I painted turquoise blue around the hands to make them look like they're glowing. After that, I added the symbols to the chakras. When that was done, I decided that the background was just 'ehh' and it just wasn't doing it for me. It didn't feel right. So, I decided to paint the background black. I covered up the crystal ball and hands and then grabbed my spray paint. I painted blue and purple along the crystal ball, painting along the curve to give the piece circular movement.
From there, I went back in with different tones and shades of blues and purples and started to blend to create the cosmic clouds. Now, let me tell you this was probably like 20-40 hours of blending. I would start off with a cloud, and then just keep adding and adding or changing them until I was satisfied. Let me tell you that my forearms were sore for a few days. I took some pink spray paint and sprayed different sections of the painting to give it more color. After that, I painted the galaxy, the orange comet on the left side, and I sprayed some bright green above the galaxy to make it look like a space rock. Then, I added some stars along the darker parts of the painting and lightly blended in some white around it to make it glow. From there, I hated that the left hand didn't blend in with the painting well. So, I added cosmic clouds to the end of it, to make it look like the universe is grabbing the hands.
Still not satisfied with what I had, I decided to add the 9 planets in our solar system to the top right corner with an asteroid belt. This was my favorite part to do on the painting. I did reference NASA, as I wanted to make sure that I got the patterns of the planets pretty closely. I definitely played with color on the planets though. On the bottom right, I added a shooting star (and fixed it too), and also added a nebula under it. I went around the entire canvas splattering white paint with a small paint brush to create stars. After that, I repainted the chakras in white. Then, I went back into the crystal ball and added purple to it to give it depth, and then finally added more white along the crystal ball to make it look like its glowing.
Let's take a look and visually see how this painting transformed.
Added the varnish (clear coat) on top + added wiring to the back of the canvas and voila.
Naming the artwork
I had different names lined up, having to do with 'time' and words synonyms for 'manifesting'. I didn't like any of them until I thought of naming the piece, Spiritual Awakening. The main idea of the piece was to remind the audience that they are the main characters of their own life. The universe is in their hands, and they have all the power in the universe to make their lives exactly how they want it to look like. People go under a "spiritual awakening" when they realize that they want to change the way their lives are (in any way). Referring back to the manifestation box, when people go to the shake bar, they write in their goals they want to achieve and put in the work to achieve them.
Installing the artwork
This was a scary move.
I wrapped the canvas in a construction blanket and then two other canvas blankets. My dad asked his cousin to help us transport it from my studio in Pawtucket to the nutrition bar in Warwick. While bringing the painting to the van, we almost thought it wasn't going to fit. It almost wasn't wide enough for the back doors, but we ended up having to put it in the truck at a 45 degree angle. He also had a bunch of construction tools in the back and a lawn mower. Of course, my dad the impatient man that he is, flipped over the lawn mower while trying to make space in the van. It then it started to drip gasoline. I was terrified... I thought my hard work was gonna go in flames and smell like gas. Thankfully, the painting was farther away from the piece, they wiped up the gas (on the van floor) and there were no fires started. They drove carefully too.
I measured out the distance of the wall to make sure that the painting is close to the middle of the wall. Screwed in the nails, and hung it up. I accidentally screwed in one nail higher than the other, but I moved it around so that it ended up not being noticeable. I left the shake bar a little after like 9pm that day, so it was ready for the event the following day. Once it was up, I felt relieved. I was finally done. And I was so excited for her and the customers to see it!