Painting a Caramel Swirl Ice Cream Cone - Step by Step

Caramel Swirl Ice Cream Cone acrylic painting on panel by Kim Testone
Caramel Swirl Ice Cream Cone, 28"x20", acrylic on panel, 2023.

When I paint, I often try to tackle some really complicated pieces. This caramel swirl ice cream cone painting, which I just finished this week, was one of those! Painting something with so many elements requires lots of layers and lots of patience. If you've followed my paintings before on social media or years ago on this blog, you may be aware that I build the paintings up from back to front, refining the layers, details and colors as I go, rather than painting from left to right. 

So below are some images of the major steps in building the layers of this piece. It will be shipping to Hidell Brooks Gallery in January, to be a part of one of their pop-up shows. Thanks so much for looking!

Rough-in the shapes. It's complicated, so this is just like laying the foundation for the puzzle, so I know where everything fits. 

I like to clarify my shapes by finding the darkest areas first. This is particularly relevant because I build the painting from back to front, so I prefer to establish the darks and layer on the lights later. 

More defining of shapes, adding in the bottom part of the ice cream and the cone. It's tough to not get lost, but if I rush this part it will be so much harder later.

Beginning to glaze in the colors. My paintings are rarely made of just solid flat colors. Instead, they are layer upon layer of color that ever-so-slightly allows the light to move through the layers and bounce back at the viewer, providing more dimension to the pieces in person. This is also a time to continue both refining the shapes and giving them dimension, even the small parts.

Most of the major parts are here, but to make it look more real and dimensional, there are still a lot of shapes and colors that need refining with added layers. 

Final 28" x 20" acrylic painting. This painting will be available via Hidell Brooks Gallery soon. It was definitely complicated, but as with every painting, I learned a lot in the process that I'll carry on to future works. Thanks for looking!

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