Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Swan and the Gull

The photo above is a detail of the latest new painting.
It all started out with an 8x10" gray gesso board, which I sanded smooth. Then I sketched out two Trumpeter Swans that I photographed at nearby Sixmile Lake on the airforce base.
I painted the top and the bottom dark blue, while the middle layer of the board was a medium blue-gray.
Then I took an old toothbush and flicked on a fine spray of watery, pale gray paint on top of the middle layer.

Next I blocked in some base tones on the swan's bodies.
I tried to blend some blue-gray with warmer buff tones into the foundation of the swan's bodies. This is a technique that I have attempted to perfect many times when painting white birds, but it needs further refinement. By the time I get it right I will lose interest in the subject. And so it goes with just about everything in my life.
Next I added whitish surface feathers on the rear swan. I also added light highlights on it's beak.
A detail of it's head. You can see the light flecks from the toothbrush. They are less prominent in the actual painting.
I realized that the rear swan needed a thicker neck, and I added some light highlights on the front swan's body.
After refining the front swan's plummage, I added the swan's reflections in the water. I also put some pale washes across the middle level of the painting. Then I covered the whole painting with a thin glaze of burnt sienna. At this point I thought the painting was completed, so I signed it.
After a day I realized that the painting needed a few refinements. I brightened the intensity of the sunlit feathers, and added some light washes to obscure hard details of the swan's plummage. Now it's done.
Last year I painted this seascape, Wildscape, 16x20". I know it will never sell but I figured I could at least improve it a little.
First I worked on the gull a little, and repainted it's legs. Then I put a pink wash on top of the background to obscure it somewhat. I also brightened some of the highlights of the sea foam.
A detail of the gull. Is it any better? Is it finished? Who knows?

1 comment:

Suz said...

a wondrous thing to behold