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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Out of the Shadows - Eastern Reef Egret

I chose medium-rough 300gsm Saunders Waterford watercolour paper for this painting and coated it with acrylic sealer after I'd completed the preparatory drawing. I enjoy the feel of painting on a sealed surface but I also like the underlying texture of the watercolour paper - the combination of both seems to suit the way I work.

Out of the Shadows - Eastern Reef Egret
Acrylic 20" x 20"

I thin the paint with a 50/50 mix of water and binder medium and, for objects like the rocks in this painting, apply it with a scrubbing action, vigorously pushing the brush bristle-first rather than drawing it across the surface smoothly in the normal manner. This results in a stippled appearance which helps to establish texture and contributes to the illusion of detail. It usually takes several applications of these transparent washes, allowing each to dry completely, before I'm approaching the tonal value and density of colour I'm looking for. As I apply each overlapping layer, I tend to notice shapes emerging in the paint which are suggestive of the texture of the pock-marked limestone rocks. Left undisturbed to dry, I can then begin to enhance the rock texture more deliberately, using the same thin paint mix. I don't feel the need to use white in my colour mixes as the paint is thin enough that the paper shines through, much as it does when using watercolours. I use a hairdryer to speed things up between each layer, being careful not to move the paint around in the process.

Because the paint is heavily diluted, I work with my painting laid flat rather than using an easel. If I have a problem with this arrangement, it's that the horizontal painting surface tends to accumulate the usual painting paraphernalia and I need to tidy up a little before I can step back to assess how things are progressing. Perhaps that's not such a bad thing!

Cheers
Pete

14 comments:

Sally McLean said...

Great work Peter. The Egret really pops out of the page at the viewer!

Peter Brown said...

Thanks Sally! I'm almost tempted to darken the background even further to make the egret jump out more, but I'll sleep on the idea before I commit to it.

April Jarocka said...

Lovely!

Peter Brown said...

Thanks for looking April.

DennyHollandStudio said...

Good job, man... I'm mesmerized by the patterns in your rocks. Such patience!

Peter Brown said...

Thanks Denny. I look forward to seeing what you're working on next.

Vesna said...

Amazing - you have a new admirer in me :)

Peter Brown said...

Vesna, thanks for visiting, and for the kind comment. I like your blog!

Dean Richards said...

It's me again Pete with a similar take on the egret. I understand it's pure white but just below the neck and under it's shoulder might be delineated more just slightly. If I'm off base from what I'm seeing on my screen I'm sure you'll understand and take this with a grain of salt as they say.

Peter Brown said...

Dean, thanks for your comments which are always welcome. The photo isn't that great, but what you say still has merit - I will do some tweaking along the lines of what you're suggesting. I may also darken the entire background as it was this contrast which drew me to the subject in the first place.

José said...

Hi Peter,

Great dynamics and composition.
The textures are convincing and you did a fine job on those values.

Best regards,

José

Peter Brown said...

Thanks Jose!

Morgaine said...

Wonderful painting, love all your work, your posts are always really interesting too! thanks for following.
Morgaine

Peter Brown said...

Thanks Morgaine! Making contact with other artists is one of the best aspects of blogging - thanks for visiting!