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CREATIVE PROCESS OF CREATION CATHEDRAL

Updated: Oct 5, 2023


Today, I would like to share how I envision and execute my hyperrealistic paintings, which take hundreds of hours to complete. Each work is a labour of love, starting with concept sketches that are refined over several years, before I actually get to the painting. I have found that this "slow art" philosophy allows me to familiarize myself with my subject matter in an intimate way, enabling me to produce compositions that I hope to be as thoughtful as they are highly rendered. So, without further ado, here is the process:


I. Concept Sketch

My concept sketches are always drawn from imagination. They are quite loose, but really embody the nucleus of my initial idea. I often refer back to the drawing throughout the painting process to make sure I've captured the spirit of the composition.

II. Gathering Reference Material

I came across Cranberry Creek Chapel online, as it was used in a Netflix show. Then I found it was located only an hour drive from my studio. I prefer taking my own photographic references when possible, as it really adds authenticity to the work.

III. Inspiration

Paintings by Emily Carr (Left) and Kim Dorland (Right), and my colour palette swatches

I digitally designed these stained glass windows based on my paintings "Whale Hymn" and "Peace Like A River"

IV. Sketching onto the Birch Panel

The birch wood panel is primed in grey, a mid-tone that is much easier to cover than stark white. The composition is outlined in charcoal and then sealed with fixative spray.

V. Acrylic Underpainting

Following after my early mentor, Robert Bateman, I complete my underpainting in acrylics. Since they are fast-drying, I have the flexibility of adjusting certain aspects of the painting.

It might look chaotic, but I like to have all my paints and brushes out for easy access while working.

VI. Layers in Oil (Over 70% of the Work)


I complete the final layers in oil paint, which is known for its rich vibrancy (originating in the Renaissance). Mixed with walnut oil, the slower drying time of the medium allows me to finely blend the subject matter, achieving a life-like appearance.

VII. Final Varnish

After 450 hours of meticulous planning and rendering, I sign it, then title it Creation Cathedral.



Creation Cathedral is a new painting from the series Vanitas and Viriditas, which debuted at Rehs Contemporary Gallery NYC from April 28 - May 26, 2023. For purchase inquiry, please contact info@joshtiessen.com.



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