Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Unexpected Visitor

Work in progress - Stage 1

     In one of our early camps near the headwaters of the Noatak River I had a wonderful encounter with an unexpected visitor. Five of us were gathered in the cook tent and thinking about starting dinner. The light was so glorious that I stepped out to get a few photos of the surrounding hills.
     Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement. To my great surprise, it was a fox walking toward me carrying something in his mouth! My camera was set for the light and while I shot as many photos as I could, I whispered back to the cook tent as loud as I dared, "Fox! fox!" The fox walked past me and when the others peered out, leapt into the willows behind camp.
     It wasn't until I was reviewing my photos days later that I realized the fox had two sik-siks in his mouth. (A sik-sik is an arctic ground squirrel.) He and his family were going to have a feast that night!

     Like most of my paintings, I start with an untempered board which I gesso myself (back, edges, and two coats on the front.) I draw the rough outlines and then do a turpentine wash with a little raw sienna and burnt sienna. From this I have a bit of a value study.
     I decided to take a risk with the composition. A more typical layout would have the fox on the right side of the piece walking left. Conventional thinking would say placing the fox on the left side walking left will lead the viewer's eye out of the painting. It is that shadow under and behind him which I think will balance the composition. If it is a deep blue-purple it will also make a nice contrast to the orange fox. In the end I think this unusual composition will add more movement to the piece.

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