Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Painting is Hard.

When I was younger and had more youthful enthusiasm, I would frequently be awakened by some brilliant idea for a new painting. I lost a lot of sleep, working like a madman to paint the next masterpiece. Now I have painted about all the great things I ever invisioned. Nowadays I get more sleep.
Most of the ideas that fired my imagination lost their magic once they were actually painted. Sometimes I painted way above my skill level, and could'nt believe that I had actually done it. Several days ago, a really great image woke me from my sleep. It was a strongly atmospheric image of a backlit, female Red-winged Blackbird. I was sure it was going to be one of my finest paintings, and I could'nt wait to get started on it. Just like the old days.

This is the quick sketch I made right after the image popped into my head. I dont have any photos of female Red-winged Blackbirds but I felt a sparrow would work just as well. Sparrows have long been one of my favorite subjects to paint. Not that I like sparrows more than other birds, I thinks their subtle patterns are interesting to paint.

This is the photo I decided to use for the painting. It's a photo of a photo. That's why it looks so bad. It's a White-crowned Sparrow that I photographed above Eagle River.

I usually dont bother to make a preliminary sketch.

A simple line drawing.

The first layer of paint is a warm undertone that will mostly be obscured by subsequent layers.

The background has been built up some more.

I put in some indistinct branches.

I have toned down the branches by adding a glaze using the same colors as the background.

I put in some soft grasses.

Muted leaves have been inserted behind the bird.
The basic colors have been blocked in

Further refinements on the sparrow.

More details added.

The bird progresses.

The sparrow is finished. There's only the twig, and feet left to paint.

Completed painting, White-crown, 12x16"

Sparrow up close.
I had such high hopes for this one. I sketched it out, and thought it through ahead of time. Even though I carefully painted this one, I'm disappointed that it did'nt turn out better. One consolation is that the painting itself looks much better than the photographs above. It just does not look like the image in my head.

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