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.
|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.
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.
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!
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”
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 and...luckily...it also balanced out the dark shadow across the squirrel's body.
I called it 'Catching the Rays' - with the squirrel itself, a mighty sunbeam!