Sunday, January 03, 2010

White-tailed Trogon - Acrylic 12" x 16"

Nothing like starting the new year with an old friend! I can't remember the last time I broke out the acrylic paints and did a complete painting. Probably when I did the sea gull painting that's featured in the header of my blog, which would have been about two years ago.

This painting was inspired by a great book by John Agnew - "Painting the Secret World of Nature" and the trogon I photographed at the Seattle Zoo. Mr. Agnew does a lot of murals and diorama paintings for museums and zoos. (Give you three guesses what I'd like to do someday...) The book has demonstrations about painting backgrounds and atmosphere to suggest the environment, without painting every little intricate detail - perfect for a recovering hyper-detail painter like me. However, I'm still struggling with adding scientifically accurate elements such as epiphytes and types of leaves found in the rainforest where the white-tailed trogon lives. Sure I can google-image the stuff but I find it so hard to then realistically incorporate those things into a painting. For example, what size would the leaves be in comparison to the bird? (Any artists out there - please leave your thoughts on and experiences with this in the comments section!) Maybe I should just stick to subjects in environments that I have an in-depth familiarity with. *Sigh* But it still felt really good to paint with an old friend.

Hope everyone had a wonderful New Years Eve (I was asleep by 10 pm).


Katherine Kean said...

Nice start to the year - gorgeous painting!

If it were I, I'd stick to what is familiar, assuming accuracy is important. But if I had to tell a detail such as a specific leaf as you mentioned without having the scale info I'd be inclined to place it either close up in the foreground or back in the background so that scale would be distorted or an unknown anyway - either that or place it outside of the image altogether, perhaps graphically or in a border.

I like how you did this painting - both composition and color!

Sherrie Y said...

Gabrielle... this looks great! Acrylics... yikes! I've dabbled with them a few times and gotten not much further than frustration. Wonderful start to the new year!

Laure Ferlita said...

You're going to have a phenomenal year by the look of things - this is great!

Unfortunately, I have no suggestions on the habitat other then to research the plant life via a field guide or Audubon resource and compare leaf size to bird size to establish a ratio. Maybe Mr. Lester will provide some answers!

Great to see you painting!

Eve said...

Well I think you did a wonderful job on this fella Gabrielle! It's just beautiful!

Kelly said...

...John Agnew is a Cincinnati guy! I was just at one of his shows at Sharon Woods in October. He also painted all the murals at the Cincinnati Zoo and they are gorgeous.

...your painting is gorgeous. I had a real feel of the tropics when I saw it (which is much welcome considering it's 17 degrees outside!

Bill S. said...

Great painting. Boy are you talented. You do a fantastic job with the colors and mood of the birds.

Gabrielle said...

Thanks Katherine, Sherrie, Laure, Eve, Kelly and Bill for stopping by and leaving me a comment!

Katherine - excellent idea. It didn't even occur to me to do that but it makes total sense.

And Kelly - I totally forgot that John Agnew is a Cincinnati guy! You are so lucky to be able to see his work at the zoo.

Stay warm everybody!

sharp green pencil said...

HI there ..and thanks for your comment.. yes its such a shame we don't live next door to each other!I would just love to have a simpatico person to talk to occasionally! I think this is a beautiful painting and as for the foliage, if I ever have this sort of thing to do and cant find exactly the right references I make it deliberately vague.. you know.. less is more...looking forward to seeing more.. and the book sounds great!

Ramona Davidson said...

Wow! I went right passed the first time I looked- I thought it was a photo. Great work!