May 31, 2018

The Story of a Painting - Painting & Drawing Tips


"How long did it take to paint that picture? "

This question is often asked at my Art Shows.  People don't really want to know it was 16.5 hours or something like that.  They are really asking how did you do that.  How were you able to take your idea and produce this wonderful picture.  What is the story of its Creation.

Every picture have a Creation Story? 
The Story may be long or short, full of intricate details and thought provoking moments, reaching a Climax when you finally put the brush down.  
Hitching a Ride is on the Easel and well underway!!

"Hitching a Ride" is on the Easel right now.  There is excitement in the air, I just want to paint. I had a hard time tearing myself away from it to write this blog.  Now that is it underway, I just want to paint!!

Here is the Story of "Hitching a Ride"

Our local Art Center was advertising a Call for Artists this spring called "Paint the Train" in partnership with the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway.  I wanted to support this event but wasn't sure how I could.  Trains and equipment are not my thing.  I settled on an idea of having a bird, hitching a ride on the train.  My working title became "Hitching a Ride". 

Lots of places for a little Bird to sit and hitch a ride on a train
Resource Material:
I didn't really have any train pictures so when I was in Agassi I stopped at the Heritage Museum and checked out their train.  I wondered around the train looking for a place to put my bird. I wanted it to be a place that 'looked like' a train not just a piece of machinery.  It wasn't till I started really taking the pictures that I began to see how my idea would work.  I put my camera case in the picture to give me a sense of size and shadow pattern for my bird.  

This little Stellar Jay came often to our Feeder.  He has a nice stance to fit into my scene

Once I had my train picture I needed a bird in my resource file. I decided on the Stellar Jay.  He is local to the area, he would look great with the oranges and yellows on the train, he is big enough that he would not get lost in the chains and bands of colour.  And he is also one of my favourite birds to paint.  Going through my files I was looking for a pose that had his tail up so I could place him on the hitch.  I liked the idea of him sitting near the middle chain.

I liked the spot by camera case for my bird - the lines and shapes all seemed to point to him.
Cropping and Prepping: 
Once I had my pictures, it was off to photoshop to crop and play with the images.  I decided not to use the picture on the steps as once I cropped it, it wasn't as interesting a place for me.  I really liked the chains, lines and colours in the picture around the hitch.   I the jay was similiar in size to my camera case so it made it easy to see how he would fit in.  (sizewise that is)

My little jay just fits nicely around the chain to really give him a 'settled' look. 

The finished painting was going to be 12 x 16 so I printed the picture out the actual size in black and white.  It took 4 pages of 8.5 x 11 paper which then had to be cut and taped together.  I like the actual size as it is easy to draw it when I can see the correct scale.  I also printed it out in colour on  8.5 x 11 photo paper.  Having a black and white gives me a good look at the values and the colour photo gives me colour info and good back up info.  I needed this for my train and for my bird.  

I do my drawing first on a large paper and then transfer it to the watercolour paper.  That way I can make any drawing changes and erasing without causing any damage to the watercolour paper.  I am using Arches 300 lb paper and although it is tough, erasing can damage the fibers. 

Once I was happy with the drawing I used tracing paper to transfer it onto the watercolour paper.

 (To Turn your tracing paper into a graphite transfer paper:  First trace the picture, then turn the tracing paper over and using a soft graphite pencil (I use a 7B or 8B) and go over all the lines.  This leaves a layer of graphite on the back of the tracing paper where your design is.  Then turn the paper back to the right side and place it on my watercolour paper, now go over the lines. )

Once I have checked over the transfered drawing I am now nearly ready to paint. Yipee!!   (Sorry no picture, I was too excited to paint and forgot to take a picture.)

Some ideas as to how to change the lighting on my Steller Jay 
A Setback
As I worked on my layout, I realized that although my Stellar Jay fit into the picture really well I needed to do more work on him.  He is back lit in my reference photo but in my train picture the light is from the front.  I needed to make some changes to him.  First I drew him with a new value scheme that reflected his new lighting.  I decided I wanted more help so I looked online for pictures that would give me more of an idea on his colour changes.  Finally I was ready to Paint!!
This little guy looks good with his new value plan

Next post, "Hitching a Ride" comes to life.  

My Etsy Store: WendyMouldsArt  is always open and new things added all the time.  

Try Your Hand at Plein Air Painting: 

Plein Air Painting Festival - August 17-19,  KilbyHistorical Site, Harrison Mills, BC

Great Opportunity to Paint on an Historic Site with costume models, farm animals, farm scenery, old store and more.  Painting Friday and Saturday, & Sunday Morning,  Prizes, Luncheon, and Sales on Sunday Afternoon.  Great Prizes for all levels - Beginners to Advanced Welcome.

$15  Register 604-796-9576 by August 15, 2018.  
This is an awesome event, there are juried prizes and draw prizes so fun for all levels.  Registration gets you on site for all 3 days.  I will be camped at the Kilby Campsite and there all 3 days so be sure and say hi.  

Drop-In & Draw Sessions: Only a few Sessions left till Summer
New people are always welcome.  Beginner to Advanced 

 Monday, June 4 & 18, 10-12pm & 1-3pm.
Expression Art Gallery, Valley Fair Mall, 227 & Lougheed Hwy, Maple Ridge,
Choose a morning or afternoon session. Bring your sketchbook or project and come and work.  I will be happy to give you pointers.  $15 Pre-Registration Required.  Contact Wendy Here. 

Artists reading this also find the following valuable: 
How to Find your Sketchbook Friend - here
Is Your Sketchbook  Ready for You - here
How to Find Your Starting Point in a Drawing - here

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Have a great Artful Day,

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