Skip to main content

Squirrel Painted in Stages in Pastels

Traditional wildlife painting with pastels.

A few notes on an instinctual approach to painting wildlife - where regret and doubt are managed through review and change, as part of the natural process of getting it right.
An approach to wildlife painting.
British Red Squirrel Painting in Pastel

First, I set out and sketched the planned painting. That was just to get it moving - once I start using the pastels I don't necessarily keep to the original sketch, as paintings often seem to take on a life of their own at some point.

Next, I added a little general colour, here and there, to get a feel for the work ahead and an idea of the squirrel's form. Chalky, soft pastels shift each time they are blended, so they can continue to be mixed on the paper until the colour is right.

Wildlife painting in stages.

Then, some time was spent securing the main features, such as the eye and ear. Once I was happy with them, I filled out some of the squirrel's form overall - to anchor the body on the page.

The tail and face were the main areas I wanted to make to stand out from the painting. Then more colour was added to develop the contour of the body.

Detail in pastel wildlife painting.

I added some patches of colour to the background, and more sticks and twigs. I began adding shade and defined the space between sticks and twigs. I wanted to capture some of the mossy greens, too.

As the squirrel was detailed ... it dawned on me that I had a lot of work ahead with the background, which was also going to be detailed...

I was regretting the amount of sticks and twigs I had included! The painting was starting to seem a little difficult...sticks and twigs are not my favourite subject!

Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.” 
(William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure)

I had also started to accentuate the shadow across the squirrel's body – and wondered if it was the right thing to do -  but I added it anyway...

Then, in contrast to my usual approach, I took some of the detail out. This worked well, as it added depth to the painting also balanced out the dark shadow across the squirrel's body.

I quite like that bold stripe. It features the play of light and dark across the squirrel's body - and gives the whole painting a sense of the squirrel and viewer playing 'peek-a-boo' between the shadows of the trees.

I called it 'Catching the Rays' - with the squirrel itself, a mighty sunbeam!

Popular Posts from this Blog

British Wildlife Watercolours

British Wildlife Watercolours.
British wildlife, birds and flowers are carefully painted using watercolours, based on the wildlife and botanical subjects from the garden and local woods.
Wildlife such as small British woodland animals (badgers, foxes, squirrels, mice, bats, deer, otters, wild cats, stoats, weasels - even wild boar, pine martens, beavers and, one day, lynx may return to the wilds of Britain!) and UK garden birds, butterflies and bees, along with ladybirds and dragonflies, add to the joys to be found in the garden, or just beyond, all year round.

Watercolours can be used to capture the beauty in the animal or plant subject using the fluidity of the paints.

Everyone's favourite! A beautiful owl resting amongst the bluebells.

Watercolours can be used in a variety of wildlife paintings for different effects based on creative preferences. For the traditional, realistic bird and wild animal paintings, dry applications of paint are built up slowly to create depth and form…

British Wildlife Coloured Pencils

Drawing wildlife using coloured pencils

Coloured pencil wildlife art paintings and drawings. 

Detailed wildlife and botanical drawings and paintings can be gained using coloured pencils which range from student grade to professional grade.

The following animal pencil paintings were achieved using a mixture of coloured pencil brands but mainly Faber-Castell Polychromos and Caran D’ache Swisscolour.

Detail is captured as realistically as possible whilst retaining the creative style.

Realistic British wildlife art by wildlife and botanical coloured pencil artist.

Wildlife Drawing Classes

Wildlife Drawing Classes
Wildlife art classes in drawing wildlife.
There is more to be gained from drawing British wildlife than drawing and sketching alone – with wildlife art classes, there can be enjoyment in discovering about some of Britain’s favourite animals and birds in the company of other artists and nature enthusiasts, through drawing wildlife classes which bring together like-minded individuals in a pleasant setting.

Drawing animals and birds from life is an excellent way to engage with the natural world around us. An understanding of wildlife anatomy, behaviour and environment, through observations and sketches, can help build the skills and knowledge necessary for more detailed graphite or coloured pencil drawings of British wildlife and birds.

Drawing class subjects include the familiar favourites such as: foxes, squirrels, hedgehogs, mice, deer and birds, plus some of the more elusive characters from the British countryside – badgers, otters, wildcats, newts, hawks and…