Jan 23, 2020

Getting the RIGHT reference for YOUR wildlife painting - Painting & Drawing Tips

Do you head out on the trail with a camera, hoping to catch a shot of a bird or animal? I don't mean packing your phone and maybe snap a shot.  I mean taking a real camera.

 I do.  .  .

BALD EAGLE: ALERT AND READY - Graphite WIP, matted 14 x 20 $450 (When finished)

Have you ever stood at the counter of the bakery. Looking across the counters, going from one delectable treat to the next.  Your eyes shiny and in your mind your mouth is already savoring each and ever delectable morsel.  Its a wonderful feast.  Suddenly there is one special pastry that calls to you.  It. is. the. ONE! (For me, it would be something with whipped cream and dark chocolate, just saying. )

Walking along the Mud Flats in South Delta is like that. . . .

The day I went, the sun was slowly setting.  The sky was clear. The air was crisp and fresh.  An awesome winter day to walk the dike trail.  The view was breath taking.  Suddenly I saw my 'special pastry'.  A young bald eagle perched on a jagged piece of driftwood, punched into the ground.  I dropped Max's lead, hoisted my camera and started clicking.

This. was. special. . . .

I took tons of pictures.  The beauty of digital photography.  Close up. Far away. Looking in different directions.  It was fascinating to study him.  Seeing him in a zoom lens, lets you study him in a way you have never seen him before.  It is mesmerizing.  (I can really understand how photographers have that eternal thirst for a bigger and better zoom lens. Fortunately, I can't carry all that equipment, so I have not succumb to that thirst. )

Just a selection of some of the many shots I took - This guy was not bothered by me and was happy to carry on with his business.  

However, capturing lots of pictures of a young eagle is not the whole story. . .

Once you have the shots which one do you pick.  What do you look for in choosing your reference picture?  Here's what I was thinking:

1. My vision: This is a biggie.  What do you want to say about your subject?  Seems like a simple question but really it isn't.  I admire the eagles, I like to honor them in my work.  I search for realism. I want to give a sense of their life, their struggles and their strength.  I wanted a long, narrow pose that spoke of my thoughts.
My last post featured robins.  Here my vision was quite different, I wanted strong realism, different views, a sense of who they are and what they do.  'A day in their life'.  (See last post here. )

The pose of my young eagle that I used for my drawing.  

2.  Light and Shadows: I look for patterns of light and shadows.  The sun was low, casting light on his left shoulder, catching a bit of his chest and his foot.  Some of the poses were completely back lite and did not have this more dramatic lighting.

3.  A sense of Movement/Alertness: I like to find a sense of action or emotion in my wildlife.  This young eagle looks alert, focused on something.  Food? Danger? Curious?  Makes you wonder.  I also look at his body lines.  Do they have a sense of movement.  I felt he looked perched but yet ready to move.  This view has some great dynamic movement to it, causing your eye to move down one side and up the other. No straight up and down lines to make him flat.

4. Clarity: My plan was to do a very detailed drawing in graphite. I wanted a picture that had the detail I enjoy.  I loved the way his feet gripped the wood.  I liked the lines of his feathers, particularly the ruffled ones on his left side that are caught in the sunlight.

What do you consider when you look at your reference pictures?

Looking for further reading:
OMG! You have to Plan First! - a more in depth look at planning and using those photo references.
How Many Planes does your Painting Have - looking at the background/midground/foreground in planning.


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February is Marketing Month for Artists!!

Each February I offer an all day workshops “Let’s Get Your Art Out There!!”
2020 Date: February 23, 10-3pm
Having trouble getting started or knowing where and what to do?
This workshop gets your Marketing Plans fired up to new and more successful levels. Learn the basics of today’s Marketing World, learn how to develop markets both online with Social Media and off line in your community, learn how to develop a productive network, and set up a Marketing Plan that will work for you. Taking this workshop is a valuable step in moving your business forward. Workshop runs 10-3:00 pm with a lunch break.    Class limited to 8 people  3 Spots Left
Cost $90 + Tx       Pre-Registration Required, contact Wendy      Gift Certificates Available

Save the Date . . . . .
March 6-8, 2020 - The West Fine Arts Show.  Peter Ewart Middle School, 7755 202A St, Langley BC.  Yes, I have teamed up with this great show event: 20 Professional Artists, Awesome Art, a show you shouldn't miss.  


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Wendy