Saturday, October 22, 2011

Artist in Residence Week - work done

Unfortunately, for reasons I cannot yet figure out, when I am away and using my small notebook computer, my blogsite allows me one post to it before then giving me a whole host of awkwardness that ultimately results in me being unable to do any more posts to it! Hence the reason this post is posted after the end of my residency week.

I worked on two paintings during my residency week... I started off by continuing to work on my kudu oil painting, adding more foliage and grasses to the right hand side.

I started this piece a few months ago and it has been painted and put to one side a number of times whilst I get on with other small paintings and various other jobs. So it was good to get back to it again. The plan was to paint in the last of the back foliage and then to start on the kudu calf. So I started the week by painting in the details of the dark area towards the lower part of the canvas (mainly on the right of the composition), adding leaves grasses, twigs etc. This was done with a small rigger - 1" rigger brush size 1 - flicking in strokes for grasses and dabs for leaves, twisting the bristles to resemble the leaf shapes of the vegetation in my reference photos. I'm not putting in a great deal of detail here as it will eventually be overlaid with long grasses in the foreground but I want just enough to provide the suggestion of grasses, twigs and leaves. Once I got to a stage where I would next start work on the kudu calf, I needed to allow the paint to dry; so once again it was put aside.

I decided to start another loose piece... a companion to the painting I did of Moti the Asiatic lioness recently.
This is to be of Chandra, the male Asiatic lion that was Moti's companion for about 14 years at Bristol Zoo.

I started the piece by sketching out his face using a 1" rigger brush size 1 loaded with a warm brown mix of colour diluted with liquin. I then blocked in some form with the same colour and a dark tone made of ultramarine, burnt sienna and alizarin crimson. I usually draw up such a sketch seperately and spend some time getting proportions looking right but as I want to try this loose approach I have been trying the process of sketching directly onto the canvas with paint. It's quite challenging, but fun also.

Then I paint in a backdrop of warm purples, mauves and orangey browns. I used the darker tones up behind his left ear to create contrast, as that will be back lit and showing a lot of light. I also start laying in colour and form on his mane... again as I always do working from the more distant surface of the subject and coming forward. I am using a round brush size 4 to work with on an 8" x 10" board.

Once I reasonably happy with his mane I then start to build the left side of his face and muzzle. I'm using a lot of orange and purple tones, these are complimentary colours and so work well together. They also add a feel of warmth and heat.

Then I put in some work on his ear, the mane at the apex of his head and the lights and darks on the bridge of his nose. Chandra had a "bumpy" nose with quite a rounded bump down to his nose.

Next I work on his face, mane round the top of his head and put in his eyes. First I block in the colour and lights and darks then I go back over to refine the moulding and features. I am still having to keep myself in check to stop myself going in too much with detail and fine brush work. Although Chandra was cross-eyed, I decided on this occasion not to paint him as such. After all... how many people looking at a painting of a cross-eyed lion would actually think that was how he was. They will probably just assume I had got the eyes wrong.

It was at this stage that I decided I had drawn his eyes too small so I enlarged them and repainted the areas around the eyes. I also worked on the area of mane on the far side of his head and under his chin.

Then I work on his muzzle and chin before waiting for it to dry and using the 1" rigger brush I drew on his whiskers using pale orange and yellows. I have deliberately kept the sides "unfinished" as I like the look of this and have seen it done extremely well to great effect by other artists and judging from a number of the comments I had over the week it seems to be something other people like too.

At home this piece would have been done in a day to stop me from "fiddling" with it too much. I worked on it over 4 days, between chatting to folk who visited us, at Nature In Art.

Chandra crops up a lot in my paintings as he's a very special lion to me. I saw him grow from a 2½ yr old scrawny youngster into a magnificent big prime male; until at the age of 14 he went to the Cotswold Wildlife Park for his retirement. He may have been cross-eyed but he was one handsome dude and had plenty of attitude. Sadly, I don't think he is alive now, but he lived to a good age and I will certainly never forget him and probably paint many more pictures of him in the years to come.

I finished the week back on the kudu piece but only got as far as putting in a base coat on the calf. So I will leave it until later when I have done more to it to post a progress pic of that painting.

Click here to view some of my photos from the week


Frances Cony said...

Lovely picture of Chandra, Sue.

Su said...

Thanks Frances... :~)