Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pheasant feathers

And I thought Hungarian partridge had a lot of feathers. Pheasants win. Not only are the patterns varied, but also the colors. One striking feature is the teal/blue on the ring-neck's head. Those iridescent colors are simply beautiful and fun to paint.

This is one of the paintings in which I didn't want to economize on detail.

Generally I start a painting with the background, move onto the eyes of my animal, the rest of their bodies, and finish with the foreground and all over touches. Since I started this painting at a show, I was forced to change my strategy. Knowing that painting the grasses first would leave me with no dry spot to rest my hand for painting the pheasants, I began with the birds.

It was a wise choice. Although I had a lot of stopping and starting in talking with customers and making sales (and forgetting what color I currently had on my brush), the constant breaks made painting the feathers more exciting and less tedious. I am not sure alone in my studio I would have had the same result. And, I think people enjoyed watching the progress more than if I had been working on some dull grasses.
Stay tuned for the next stage. (now back in my studio.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Less is More

Mara Crossing
8.75" X 30"
Original Oil

There are times to paint fine detail and times when I find less is more.

Watching this phalanx of wildebeest crossing the Mara River, I didn't really see individual animals. I felt the movement of the entire group. In order to convey that hurried sense of fording the river, I knew that tight detail in each wildebeest would destroy the moment. An elongated painting and loose gesteral renderings seemed appropriate to capture to scene.

Next up, a pheasant painting. With lots of detail. Maybe I should title the next blog, More is More

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And now for something completely different

Arctic Plunge
Original Oil
42" X 30"

It has been a while since I have blogged. Right now I have a number of paintings in various stages of drying. This one was finally dry enough to snap a photo.

After all the spots of the large leopard piece, I wanted to stretch and play with some color and impressionistic action. A polar bear lunging (plunging) after his harbor seal dinner hit the spot.

Since I have seen polar bear diving in after beluga whales from rock perches, I am sure this scene has happened. A bear spots a seal at the ice breathing hole, the seal slips beneath the surface, and the bear, not wanting to lose his supper, dives right in.

What made the painting challenging and fun was the underwater perspective. I have been fully submerged (in a bathing suit, no less) in Antarctic waters, and have snorkeled with beluga whales in Hudson Bay. I have not been underwater in Hudson Bay when it is covered in ice.

But then, what is the fun in painting only those things you have seen? The Sistine Chapel would be pretty dull if Michelangelo had only painted the merchants, farmers, and nobles of his day. And without DaVinci's Last Supper fresco, we would have missed out on Dan Brown's best seller.
I figure every time I try something new, I learn. It may be a while before I figure out what it was, but I usually find something.