Saturday, March 03, 2012

Evolution of 2012 Balloon Poster


 I've been working on the canvas for the 2012 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Poster and I thought I would share my progress with you. 
The theme for the fiesta this year is "Blaze a Trail." I really wanted to convey the sense of wide open space in the landscape of my wonderful state. I also liked the idea of beautiful balloons taking off from fiesta park (which is in the north valley and of course, has sunflowers) and traveling over hills and valleys, rivers and fields, to end up somewhere over the horizon. What you see above is my original sketch. They said it was just a little busy and balloons don't fly sideways - a little too whimsical. I still like it. 


This is my revised sketch, which I love. The balloons are flying straight, and I have toned down the landscape to basics.

Okay, there's an interesting story to go along with this canvas. This is not my original. I sketched the original, reworked it and just wasn't happy with it. 
I couldn't get the depth of field and perspective I wanted in the background freehand. I didn't want to destroy the sketch I made on that canvas because I want to paint it someday as a landscape without balloons. So I went and purchased another canvas. And I tried to think of a solution. In the end, I did! I ended up going to the wonderful elementary school down the street. They were nice enough to let me borrow an empty classroom, use a projector and project my image straight onto my canvas. I lost some of the foreground flowers and had to do a bit of reworking near the bottom while I had the projector on - moving it just slightly, then jacking up the back of the projector with paper to get it to hit the bottom of the canvas. Profuse thanks to Annette at Alameda Elementary School.

This is my sketch on canvas, toned with lighter colors than I normally use. My normal is red and burnt sienna. This time I added yellow ochre to the mix. I want the undercoat be bright since it's going to be in acrylic with linework.
I also sneaked in a roadrunner in the right-hand corner under the sunflower. Can you see him? Every balloon poster that I've seen has a roadrunner somewhere in the painting because it's our state bird. Now comes the hard part - actually painting the darn thing. Wish me luck.


  1. Looking forward to seeing your progression on this piece.

    Have fun painting!!

  2. Like the addition of roadrunner. So will the second largest balloon be yellow with red "cross" to represent new mexico flag?

  3. I had no idea that roadrunners really existed. Thought that the roadrunner and Wiley Coyote were just cartoon characters.

    Learn something new every day I guess.

  4. Roadrunners really DO exist, lol. I have a family that lives near my house and tries to eat all the little baby birds around here. You know, I'm not sure about the balloons yet. They only wanted three and wanted them to be rather generic. I guess not to identify with any particular balloon. We'll see.....