Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Toucan by Night - Toucan at Night

40 cm x 60 cm (16" x 24")
oil on slim wrap canvas
Available on commission

You may remember that a week or so ago I showed a watercolor painting of a Toucan. Although an interesting painting in it's own right, it was conceived as a sketch for a larger painting. I was working through some ideas for an oil painting, which has now been completed (above).

Toucan at Night,
6" x 4" watercolor
140 lb cold pressed watercolor paper

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Do you have blue blood?

I found this charming photo on Pinterest. Princess Elizabeth with her sister Margaret and her beloved father, King George VI. I know this is a posed photo, probably a reject because the princesses were momentarily distracted, however, it has a relaxed feel to it, and I love the setting, probably somewhere on the Balmoral or Sandringham Estate.

"With at least 40 'natural' children born to the British royal family between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE magazine says that there are over four million descendants of Edward III alive today, going on to state that some experts believe that "practically everyone" with British ancestry could be descended from royalty. If you're one of the estimated 13% of Americans and 21% of Canadians with British ancestry, your chances of finding a royal connection are actually better than you might think."

There have always been family stories that I have blue blood on my German side, but now it appears that I may be royal through and through. No wonder I'm a bit of a closet Royalist. My father was called Arthur, possibly after the Camelot king, and the latest heir to the throne is even named after my mother, Charlotte. Now, about those castles .....

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Venus - Progress shots

Acrylic on 40cm x 60cm Canvas
Masterpiece Commission
Botticelli "Birth of Venus" detail

I usually just launch into an acrylic painting freehand, but with a masterpiece commission I'm a little more cautious. First I mark the canvas into about 16 squares along the edge with a neutral mid tone color like raw sienna or yellow ochre. Then I paint a main outline using the sections as a guide and paying attention to negative spaces.

I've been traveling with watercolors and the only acrylics I could obtain locally were thinly pigmented, so In this case I chose to build up the image in acrylic washes. For the sky I used two light washes of Ultramarine and Phthalo Blue.

I don't work top to bottom or background to foreground in any particular order as you need to in oil, because acrylics dry so fast. Here I laid in the darkest dark in a thin wash of Ivory Black, then went to the lightest light of the face, starting with a light wash of Vermillion, then a little Titanium White which was so thinly pigmented that it was almost mixing white. Lastly I painted a very light wash of Cadmium Yellow Light, adding some detail in the hair and eyes in Ivory Black.

Next I worked on the hair with layers of wash and line in Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Light and Burnt Umber. For the fine lines I used a fan brush. I made a few corrections to the face and eyes, whiting out dark spots with Titanium White and acrylic gesso and then adding corrections.

Lastly I worked on the right hand side of the hair using the same wash methods as the left side.

More tweaking to the all important right side of the hair.

Now the fine tuning of the features and hair. This is the part that takes time. I used a small round brush for the lines and an angle flat brush for the modelling washes. These were a bit of a nightmare because with acrylic paint a wet layer over a drying layer lifts the paint below. The only acrylic paint that works like oil in this respect seems to be Atelier Interactive, which is European, but available on the internet. If I had some of that I could have made one even light wash and it's longer drying time and reactivating quality would have helped with the hot climate here. I ended up using a stippling stroke, basically adding a light wash only to the dips in the canvas weave. This was very time consuming, but it gave a sort of weathered look to the painting. I have to admit that this made me feel like I was communing with Leonardo da Vinci and I certainly learned a lot about portraiture.

The final step was to coat the hair and features with a thin wash of my low pigment Titanium White. This softened all the Cadmium and gave the painting a slightly aged and faded look. Lots of work, but I really love how it turned out.