Supplementary project

One of my found photos is a still from the Loch Arkaig osprey cam taken just after the first chick hatched and while there were still two eggs. Of all the photos, this is the one I actually wanted to paint and, for the assignment, I will. But the specifications are that each painting should be on a 6″ x 6″ square of HP watercolour paper and I really wanted to make something bigger. So that’s what I’m doing; getting it out of my system, maybe!

Amazon packing paper, transparent primer, acrylic washes.
String marks the lines of hills in the distance.
Struggling with the beak on the bird on the right so after this photo, I blotted it out with payne’s grey acrylic and began again.
Here I’ve washed the background with T white to knock back the colours and lift the birds out of the picture. I’ve used copper acrylic to begin emphasising the shape of the birds and to pick out the chick. At this point it’s beginning to look like an avian nativity!
Copper acrylic to plumage and parts of the nest, green wash to the background. Lighting is a strip of tiny, bright white LEDs that stick almost anywhere and provide cheap daylight to dark places. It makes quite a difference to how the paint medium presents to the eye and to the camera. I should maybe take photos of all my darker pieces under this light. The Mars piece, for instance.
Application of T white with palette knife and addition of soft pastel marks on the background and the birds. There are unintentional eyes where eyes shouldn’t be.

This is the tipping point; the support is flimsy and won’t take much more medium or pressure, the risk of over-working is high, and the background isn’t what I want just yet. Also those ‘eyes’ that make the larger bird look like a cartoon. How is I see this so clearly in a photo but not face-to-face?

I’ve applied matte varnish by spray to fix the soft pastel – some of which is glued on after I dropped a piece and shattered it. Ground up, it gives texture as well as colour. Hopefully, once fixed I can wash the background with some darker tones without losing the effect of texture where the pastel has acted on the folds and crinkles of the paper.

Dark wash of Payne’s grey mixed with phthalo blue, then sap green towards the mid ground. Gold acrylic picking out parts of the birds and the nest, including the chick.

Neither bird is particularly satisfactory – the one on the right is an odd shape and the one on the left looks a little like a parrot. I have never yet got that larger bird properly formed. The last thing now is to use gloss varnish selectively on the birds and parts of the nest.

Done, the eventual 6″ x 6″ of this image doesn’t have much to live up to! The problem is drawing and I haven’t at any time drawn those birds with any sort of accuracy. Even with a more gestural expressive style, drawing is an essential or the shapes don’t work and these don’t work. <—- note to self.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.