Monday, July 13, 2009

Life on the Edge

In calling this painting "Life on the Edge - Black-Footed Rock Wallaby", I'm most obviously describing this individual's vantage point on the cliffs. More significantly, the title reflects the species' delicate conservation status. Although I've been lucky enough to observe them in reasonable numbers at a couple of locations, their populations are scattered and they face serious threats from habitat destruction by sheep and feral goats, competition for food from rabbits as well as predation by foxes and feral cats. Let's hope captive breeding programs and fox baiting can go some way towards resurrecting their numbers and restoring them to their former range.

Life on the Edge - Black-Footed Rock Wallaby
Acrylic 28 1/2" x 14 1/4"

Experience has taught me that there'll never be a painting I'm completely happy with in every respect. This one is no exception, and I know I'll have to banish it to the back room for a couple of weeks before I'm able to look at it with any degree of objectivity. Verdict notwithstanding, it's the first painting I've completed in many years and I'm greatly relieved to have broken the drought at last.

However I feel about this painting after I've recovered from painting all those rocks, I know I learned a lot from it. I learned that I need to put more time into preliminary sketches to establish a pleasing overall design - my overreliance on photographic reference has got to change! I learned that sticking to a limited palette will help my paintings gel as a whole until I've gained more experience or been able to seek guidance from a more knowledgeable artist. I learned that I need to guard against rushing, particularly when the painting is large and I'm not progressing as quickly as I'd like; the best approach I've found with any formidable project is to break it into bite-sized chunks and treat the completion of each stage as a mini-milestone.

Now, it's on to something smaller with NO rocks!


As I began this blog, I must say I wondered whether it could be of any real value. Now that I've posted for a few months, I've come to feel in some small way that I'm an active part of a community of online artists, all facing similar challenges and asking the same questions of themselves. I've sincerely appreciated the support and encouragement so freely given, and I've come to regard those who provide regular comments and feedback as part of a circle of friends, without whom the task would be that much harder and certainly more solitary. So, with painting #1 finished, it seems an opportune time to say "thank you one and all!"


DennyHollandStudio said...

Awesome piece of work- what a pleasure to view. Don't give the rocks so fast!

Peter Brown said...

Wow, thanks Denny. Your blog has been a real find; your effort of 50 birds in 50 days leaves me speechless - what an achievement!

Grahame Butler said...

Hi Peter, in my opinion for what its worth I think this is a great piece wof work, nothing that any good comes easy, so all that work on the rocks was worth it, and Im sure when you pull it out again in a couple of weeks you will see what everyone else does, no artist is 100% happy with any of there work but hey thats just the way it is, I work in the same way breaking a large piece down into many smaller drawings, I think of it as one large Jigsaw that needs all the pieces drawn to complete the whole picture, it helps! look forward to your next piece... ( sorry for the long post)

Peter Brown said...

Grahame, thanks for your words of support and encouragement as I've worked my way through this painting. It's blogs such as yours that inspire me to do what I do.

Gary Keimig said...

I agree with Grahame and Denny. You are being too hard on yourself. I think it is a great piece of work. And yes I too am not satisfied with most all paintings I do.
Maybe some darker areas strategically placed leading the eye towards the center of interest? But be carefulif you do because you have a really nice painting here.

Peter Brown said...

Thanks for those comments Gary. I hope I didn't sound too negative! I guess after staring at this painting for the past few weeks I'm very familiar with it, particularly those areas which gave me trouble or didn't live up to expectations. I'm sure I'll be happy with it once I'm concentrating on the next painting.

Colette Theriault said...

Peter that is absolutely superb! The title is very neat and after I've read your post about the status of the black footed rock wallaby, the title is even more suitable.
I can understand your reasoning behind the rocks as I can't seem to want to even look at another dried leaf, let alone paint/draw one.

Cheers, step back and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!

Peter Brown said...

Thanks Colette! I look forward to seeing what's on your drawing board.

James Whitehurst said...

Looks great.

Peter Brown said...

James, thanks for stopping by!

April Jarocka said...

I agree with you Peter about finding a community of friends online. It's been real moral support at times. All the best

Dean Richards said...

Hello Pete, This looks great... but... and please don't take this as critical but from what I see on my computer the wallaby looks a bit flat or lacking in sufficient contrast. Flipping down to the photo reference I see much more definition. Take a very quick glimpse at it a see what you think. Don't be afraid to adjust the contrast up a bit as I find it helps to push the outer limits of light to dark to give the impression of strong light.

Peter Brown said...

Thanks Dean. Comments such as yours are always accepted as constructive criticism and are most welcome.

Apart from the views of others which are always likely to be more objective than my own, I find it helps to put a finished painting away for a few weeks before assessing it again, hopefully with fresh eyes and greater clarity.