During my time as an inpatient in hospital, blood tests formed an important part of the daily routine. I decided to develop this experience into a painting.

The photos below show the process of building up the painting from my initial tonal drawing.

Sketching out the drawing design onto the painting board (left). Always handy to turn the drawing and painting around whenever you get stuck… sometimes shapes are easier to see from a different angle!

Blocking out the main areas of shadow in ivory black.

Adding in a few more colours – all desaturated shades of red mixed with black. I used just four colours in this painting: ivory black, cadmium red, yellow ochre and titanium white – this palette choice is attributed to the Swedish artist Anders Zorn.

At this point I started to add in lots of grey – a useful ‘bridging’ colour between the darkest and lightest areas.

A close-up of the hands on the left showing the range of colours used. I was particularly influenced by the way in which Lucian Freud develops his flesh tones – lots of thick impasto paint, with subtle changes of temperature.

The resolved image. I made sure to reserve the brightest cadmium red for the tube of the syringe – the highlight of this piece!