Jun 14, 2018

The Story of a Painting: Final Edition - Painting & Drawing Tips

HITCHING A RIDE - 12 X 16 -Watercolour
That train can start moving any time as my little Stellar Jay is ready for his ride.  Hitching a Ride is ready to roll.

When I  left you, in my last post, there were two challenging things to do: the Stellar Jay and that really involved section in the bottom middle of the painting. The hitch.  I must admit, I left them both to the last purposely.  It is much easier to face them once I have mastered my colours, value scheme and plan.  They were both complex areas but required different treatment.  The Jay was my star and needed to shine while the hitch was intricate but expected to blend and add interest, not steal the show. 
 (Need to catch up, you can begin the story of my painting with this post here - The Story of a Painting )

Just a light wash of  Winsor Blue to get this little fellow started
Challenge # 1 - The Stellar Jay
My Stellar Jay was a double problem as you know. As well as being a complex character,  my reference picture did not have the right lighting.  I was going to be making some big decisions on how the light would affect his colours.  I started with a light wash of blue close to my sunlight value.  Then I began to block in colour based on my value sketch for his new lighting. 
Blocking in some colour
I felt I was on the right track. So I kept on adding layers:  developed the tail feathers, set up his beak, worked on his crown, and layered his chest.  As I worked I started to do his legs and feet while I waited for other areas to dry.  When glazing it is very important to make sure the layers underneath are dry before adding a new layer.  If not they will mix together and mud can be the results.  I am not one to use a hair dryer, I like things to dry naturally.  So I often work on another part of the picture while I wait.
Checking the drawing and the colours - note pencil changes to the right shoulder
I was really feeling like things were coming together well.  The layers kept building.  Time to make a close check on the drawing as I was feeling body parts weren't right.  Yep, changes needed.  His right shoulder was too low and he was a little too fat and needed a trim on his left side.  This also changed how the tail appeared behind the chain. 

 (I am sure you are wondering about his eyes.  Since they are such an important element in bringing my birds and animals to life I leave them till I am ready to do them. I like them to fit into the body and not just float while I paint around them.  So sometimes it can be quite late in the process before they get painted or drawn in.)

I took a pencil and lightly drew in my changes.  Then using my trusting little 'lifting ' brush I lifted paint where needed.  The beauty of my background is I can add a few spots of colour to tighten up the drawing and they just blend in.  (Special Note: Even those special additions had to be done with 2 or 3 coats so they will blend in to the surrounding area.  I don't want any hard edges. )

Finished for now - STUDY MODE as I move on
Finished up the feet and tightened up the area around them.  Again, using a few layers I was able to blend into the base as I refined the feet.  I had purposely left this area a little undeveloped so I could work on it as I refined the feet.  Now it is time to Study him.  

Challenge # 2 - The Hitch
Step 1 - picking out some darks
 I found this Hitch area very interesting but very complex to paint.  I wasn't quite sure what to do.  I fell back on my tried and true method: paint what you see, don't try and interpret it and start with the darkest dark (Value 10)  Once I painted in the 10's I looked for the 9's then the 8's.  Always moving around the area.  If I found a colour that I liked, for example the greens, I put it in various areas that I felt it needed to go.  I played with the blues and grays the same way. Constantly moving around the area looking for little pieces to enhance. Always focusing on the shape and colours rather than 'the thing'.  
Step 2 - Picking out more and more darks and lights
Once I felt it had taken shape I really built up the shadows.  Again, glaze over with a layer of my purple, let it dry, check the value, add another layer.  Finally I was happy.
Step 3 - Checking the final Shadowing Glazes
The Final Stage: 
Study Mode.  Make notes on what I wanted to change. Study some more. I have my picture up on an easel so I can see it when I go by my studio. I leave it for a day or two and then revisit it.  I take a picture and look at that, both in colour and in black and white.  I often look things up. In this case I felt there needed to be a light highlight on my Jay's breast and I felt that the dark on his crown needed to be adjusted. I looked at other pictures of Jays in the sunlight.  I also felt there should be reflected light from the yellows and greens on my Jay. When I was ready, I made the changes.  

I use to jump in and make changes as soon as I thought of them.  Often that lead to fiddling and needless lifting again.  Now when I am in this final stage I find it better to wait and study.  Somethings those changes are just the feeling of the moment and once I step back I feel differently. 
HITCHING A RIDE is ready for his Train Ride.  
What are some of your steps in finishing up a picture? How do you 'decide' if it is done?  

My next project is already on the easel - Signs of Spring featuring a pair of Varied Thrushes.  REally excited to get it underway, I love their bright orange breast and mine was caught in the sunlight, really feeling me with thoughts of Spring. 

 Etsy Store: WendyMouldsArt  is always open and new things added all the time.  Original Artwork, prints and cards of Art by Wendy's Work.

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  events@kilby.ca 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: 
New people are always welcome.  Beginner to Advanced 

 Monday, June 18, 10-12pm & 1-3pm.  Monday, August 13, 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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