Sunday, January 08, 2012

More Works in Progress

The spoonbill painting continues to develop. I'm starting to block in the leaves, but still deciding if I'm happy with the sky. The blue seems wrong somehow. The sky in the photo this painting is based on is a deeper blue which certainly makes the bird stand out but somehow it feels like a stereotypical and boring blue, if that makes sense. Any suggestions?

I've also started another painting. I'm painting it for our living room and I wanted it to be more loose; less realistic. This is the first painting I've ever done specifically to hang in our own home. I switched to a canvas panel and I want to allow some of the canvas texture to show through. My main complaint about canvas panels is that the panels have a tendency to bow a little. I am hoping that once the painting is finished I can flatten it out somehow.

My models for the painting are from the Seattle Aquarium. The camera's flash really brought out the brown in their feathers, but I'm trying to paint the bird as you'd see it in the wild, where the natural light brings out more of the grays, blues and blacks in the feathers. These birds are called black oystercatchers, but their main diet is actually more along the lines of mussels and limpets that they find along the tideline in the Pacific. We love the Oregon coast, and look forward to spotting oystercatchers amongst the rocks on our visits so it is an appropriate subject for us. I'm still developing the background, obviously still painting the mussels, and still fussing over the bird's bill. Oystercatcher's bills are a bit unusual in shape and it is throwing me off a little. Overall I'm really enjoying the project though.


Sonya Johnson said...

Both of these are coming along very nicely, I think! I have no suggestions for the blue background for the spoonbill; I actually like it because it *doesn't* look like a sky, but almost like a portrait backdrop cloth. So, it has a feel of being an actual "portrait" painting of the spoonbill, if that makes sense.

Ken Januski said...

Hi Gabrielle,

I'm for leaving the sky as it is. I often find that I'm torn though between colors that look good in the painting but don't look like the original source. Then there's oftne a nagging to get them closer to the source. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. As someone who is tricked on a daily basis into using blues that are too predictable I know the problems of that. And yet sometimes that's just what you see and just what you want to portray.

I'd actually be tempted not to do much more with this one. Perhaps a subdued highlight on the leaves and be done. But that's just my take. There are always a million ways to make a successful painting, not that they're ever easily discovered!

Gabrielle said...

Hi Ken and Sonya, thank you both SO much for your comments. You both have made me reassess the sky. Maybe I was forcing my unformed vision on this painting when it wouldn't really fit with what I've got already. I appreciate your feedback so much. It really helped.

Sonya, what you said about the sky being like a backdrop cloth really opened my eyes. I love that idea and feel more appreciative of what's there.

Ken, I am so glad I'm not the only one who struggles with blues as well as what to use and what not to use from the original source material. I think you may be right about not doing much more with this piece. The bird image is so strong and I don't want to take away from that.

Thanks again to both of you!