Apr 23, 2015

Backgrounds! More on Painting Backgrounds!


Well I went all out on this one!!

I wanted a night scene 
but it had to have some life to it
So . . .

Barn Owl at night - WIP 1

Crazy eh?!

As I said, I wanted night and I wanted interesting foliage/background.  I think I got it!!

To start, I decided on the size of my owl and where he would be placed.  I was thinking of putting a clump with a stamp on the left and have a branch come out of it for my bird to sit on.  I wanted it to be night and have only the front part of the bird in light.  Then I put frisket down where the owl was going to be. 

Next, I picked my colors: Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, New Gamboge, Alizarin Crimson and Paynes Gray and made a medium wash with each of them.  I wet my paper and let it settle in. When the puddles were gone but it was still shiny,  I went at it!!  

I covered the paper with my colours, letting them mix and mingle,   As a final touch I dropped salt crystals. As you can see, they really made some interesting texture. I walked away and left the whole thing dry over night.  No blow drying of any kind. 
A close up showing the effect of the salt on the paint.  Neat, eh?!
Once things were dry I cleaned the frisket and salt off and laid out my picture.  I was ready to start painting it.  
Barn Owl at Night, WIP 2 - detail 
Here is the start of my picture.  As you can see the branch covers over the background nicely and my background really seems to suggest interesting foliage.  

Next week I will have this baby done and you will see how things work together.  Lots of work to do on the bird and of course a few more layers on the background.  Sign up to get my blog by email so you wont miss Part 2!! (top right hand corner of this page) 

For further ideas on working with backgrounds see:  March 19 - How to paint the background?

Have you tried this type of background? How did it work for you?  

Have a great day and let me know how this works for you,

Apr 16, 2015

Backgrounds, Backgrounds, What to do with Backgrounds!!??


Whether it is oil, acrylic, watercolour or pencil,
the problem is the same
the Background!!
Make it fussy, make it plain, 
What is the best way to handle it?

Garden Visitor - Graphite, 5 x 7 inch
In pencil and other dry medium we often get a break! The tendency is often to have no background.  Instead there is a mid-ground and foreground with the white of the paper implying a background.  Sometimes even the foreground is only suggested and the subject is developed to a point where it has the depth. (See Ali as an example)   Works for me!! No background to worry about and life is good.

Garden Visitor with white paper background

However, that does not always work.  

Things can get lost somethings.

 My picture Garden Visitor was my problem.  It was originally declared finished, without a background.  It sat, I studied it, I matted it, I even framed it!  But still I was not happy.  My little rabbit just seemed to be lost and the picture mostly looked like a band of white and a band of black. I darken, I lightened but nothing seemed to work.  He sat some more.  I was concerned that if I filled in the background the picture would become a gray blob!!  Easy to do with pencil!

That's when I decided to use a Suggested Background.  I had just finished my tulip picture in watercolour, Spring Friendships, and loved how the Suggested Background worked there.  Why not do it with pencil, was my next thought.  I did.

Garden Visitor - detail - notice the Suggested Background of more leaves and plants
Good luck with your backgrounds, and remember a Suggestion can go a long ways!!

Contact me to create a portrait of your animal.  See more examples of my pet portraits on my Commission a Drawing Page.

Apr 10, 2015

Drawing Animals: What to do about Whiskers??!!


The Portrait is finished

Just need to do the whiskers


Alvin: Graphite, 8 x 10
Whiskers seem like an extra to be added on at the end of a drawing but that is not the case. They are an important feature that can bring my animals to life.  It takes careful planning at the beginning to get them right: they are a white space that has to be saved, it can’t be created later.
Alvin: Detail of Whiskers
There are two ways to create the whiskers; one is to use a dull point, like a darning needle.  The whiskers are drawn with the needle at the start, creating a deep groove in the paper. Thus allowing you to work over the lines and no graphite will go into them. 

Whiskers made with darning needle 
I personally don’t use that method very often.  I find that once those grooves are made there is no going back.  Sometimes when I get further into a drawing I want to make changes: add or take away whiskers; or lengthen or shorten them.  These options are not possible if I have made the groove in my paper. I also find that if I am making smaller drawings it is hard to make my grooves thin enough.  My embossed whiskers end up all the same width and too thick for a smaller portrait.

I like to “leave my whites” to create my whiskers.  This again requires pre-planning.  Once the drawing is transferred and the first layer is blocked in, I use a pointed white eraser to shape my whiskers.  This gives me a good sense of how they will look for the finish.  There is often bits of graphite still on them from the blocking in which also gives them a more realistic look.  (not a line of white but gray tones in places)  One note of caution, this method is a lot fiddlier, as you must continually save those whites as you build up the area around them.  

Alvin is my neighbour’s cat, a very friendly guy. He comes over often to hunt around our bird feeder.  So far he hasn't had much luck but he loves to try.  He has been a very obliging model for me so I have got some great shorts.  His thick fluffy hair makes him very fun to draw. 

On another note: Things are busy around here, packing today for the Vendel Festival Show tomorrow.   Saturday, April 11, 11-6pm, Beecher Place, 12160 Beecher St, Crescent Beach.  - Art, Wine, Ocean View & Chocolate - who could want for anything more!!??

Have a great day,

Contact me to create a portrait of your animal.  See more examples of my work on my Commission a Drawing Page. 

Apr 2, 2015

It's like Magic!!


Paper, pen, pencils
a few ideas
"At the Pump" comes to Life!!
At the Pumps: 1931 Model A Ford - Coloured pencil & Ink
Oh, don't I wish it was that easy!! 
Magic Tricks aren't just smoke and mirrors, lots is happening at the back end.  

The same is true with creating a new drawing.

My materials
My ideas come from my experiences.  This picture came about with my involvement at the Kilby Historical Site.  It is a store and farm at Harrison Mills build in 1906.  The historical society works hard to keep it in good repair and open each summer.  With their costume attendants and variety of farm animals they present a step back in time.  I have a large display of prints, cards and memo pads in their gift shop and cafe.  It is a wonderful outlet for all my animals and birds that I love to draw.  

I was at Kilby several years ago with their Fall Festival and during the afternoon a Classic Car Club arrived with a wonderful collection of old Fords.  I got some great shots of several of the cars. This car, a 1931 Model A Ford seemed just right for my little scene "At the Pumps". Gas was sold at Kilby when cars arrived and the pumps are still standing there today.  They advertise gas at 17 cents, I would love to be able to fill my car at those prices!!

Once my pictures are taken they percolate in my mind until I have an idea; my car stopped, waiting to fill up at the pumps in the background became my story.  Of course ink work had to be involved, somehow old things just invite my pens out. Coloured pencils and graphite pencils got in the mix as I  love the combination of ink with black coloured pencil:  you can get so many more tones and interesting texture.

My materials are:
2 ply Rising Museum Board
Prismacolour Black Pencil
Micron Pigma Pen .03
2B & 5B Derwent Pencil
erasers & pencil sharpener

Not much.
Sometimes it really does seem to be like Magic even to me!!

Have a good day,

Special Note:
Two miniatures "On the Watch: Rocking Moutain Bighorn Sheep" 1.75 x 4 inches and "On the Ridge" 2 x 3.5 inches have been selected as part of the 8th International Miniature Art Exhibit, June 14 to Sept 6, 2015 at Levis, Quebec, Canada. If you are visiting the area be sure and check the show out and tell me how my little ones are doing.