Sunday, September 30, 2012

Finishing what I started!

Psalm 104:24-26 O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships; there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

Last year when I completed my Humpback whale painting that I interred in the fair I really wanted to keep the momentum moving forward with more art. I did not want to repeat what I had done 7 years ago! This was not my first choice for another painting, I have several ideas for more sea life art but this one just kind of stuck in my head. I love the ocean and will always be working on something that has to do with it. The bird painting I just completed for the fair this year was started at about the same time last summer as this one. I put all my focus on it though for the fair this year and set this one off to the side. So it is time to finish it. A friend of mine after seeing a picture of my bird painting asked me if I had anything else done. I showed him a picture of this piece and said I need to finish it though. He said, “Why, its not done”? No, I still have more to do on it. This year my goal is to complete more than one painting and I know to do that I will have to work really hard, but it is doable.

My inspiration for this painting came from a You Tube video of a mother and calf I had found wile looking for some more reference material. The calf at on point leaped out of the ocean and I immediate thought, “that would make an interesting painting”.
At first I was going to do the same thing with this one that I did with my last whale painting by having an angle to the surface of the water. I like that type of effect and will use it in the future but decided to come back to a flat surface for this one. When I started on the blue for the water and sky I was having some trouble blending the colors together. I was using some slow-dry blending gel medium but it just didn't seem to be working for me. It was the first time I had used it and I thought I was doing something wrong. When I let it set for a day it looked a lot better.

The blank board. Funny how every painting starts this way. When I get an idea, I can see the finished piece in my mind. It is bring it to completion that I sometimes struggle with.

My first attempt for the sky and water. I don't know why I had a harder time blending the water, as to the gradation from top to bottom, on this piece, then with the last whale painting I did. It was the first time I had used a slow-dry blending gel medium. I need to be a little more patient with it next time! The sky is a mix of light blue permanent, brilliant blue, titanium white and just a little ultramarine Blue(green shade). The bird painting I completed this year I switched to using cerulean blue for the sky instead of brilliant blue because of a suggestion from a you tube video on painting skies and clouds. I like the cerulean blue a lot better because the light blue permanent and brilliant blue, I feel, have more of a green tint to them, which works great for the water. For the water I am using a lot more brilliant and ultramarine blue.

Next was the sky. I was happy with how it was looking so I decided to start on the whale that would be in the background at the bottom of the painting. When I started this piece I was undecided with the direction the whales would be going in the painting but I settled on my original plan of them moving from left to right. As I finished transferring the tracing to the board I noticed a pencil smug just below the whale. I tried to remove it but I made it worse. I was dreading the thought of having to redo the background, especially after all the trouble I had in the beginning. There was no getting around it so back at it I went. Again, I felt I was having the same problems blending the colors but when I let it set for a day it looked great. I went over the sky to because I noticed that some of the paint from re-doing the underwater splashed up into that area. I learned a good lesson though on how I transfer my drawings to the board. Sometimes I have noticed that I will get graphite from the pencil tracing on my hand and that is probably how the smug got their. When you are starting out on a blank canvas it is no problem but if you are laying it down on top of a painted area, well I am more careful now. There are other ways you can do it but it works the best for me. I would love to have a digital projector but they are a little out of my price range right now.

I was so happy with how the clouds were looking. I should have taped that area off when I re-did the water. I didn't think I was going to splash paint up their! Oh well.

Here I am laying out the arrangement for two of the whales that will be in the painting. I changed the look of the mothers tail, as you will see in the photos below. It was looking to much like the one on the mother of the last whale painting I did.

I know you can't really see the smug here, but If you look at the center of the picture, come down about half way, it is just to the left. I tried to use an eraser to get rid of it but that just made it worse. The blending gel medium I used also retards the drying time of the paint and that probably added to my problem.   

My second attempt for the sky and water. I could say a third time would be a charm but I don't even want to go there! I learned some new techniques, so that is a good thing!

last year wile working on my previous whale painting I came upon this art book by the artist Wyland at a local art supply store. There are some great techniques in his book. Some are just your basics but it helped me more when I started this painting, because of how fare I was along with the other one last year. It is fun when you come upon techniques that other artist have been or are using and can say, “Hay, I am doing that”! I am not trying to be cocky. I do not have a BA or Masters degree in art. For the most part I am a self taught artist. Some of it does come from natural abilities to! I am trying to build up my library with books of artist and their techniques. Wyland uses a technique for the outline of his whales in his paintings with white paint. I decided to try it but came back to using black paint. He works wet on wet and can do a painting in one setting which I admire! His method allows him to blend the background to the whales in the foreground but I like to let the background areas dry first and then come back in and paint my foreground objects. For me right now I like to use a method of building my layers of paint up a little at a time because of the results that I achieve when I do. I am a caucus person, not good at taking risks! I am not knocking his way of painting. I have learned some good techniques form his book and will use them in the future. We all have our way that works best for us but it does help to know what other artist are doing. Especially when you get stuck!

Back to adding the tracing of the whale that would be in the background. After I had the tracing down again and outlined it with white paint I started filling it in. I was amazed at how fast it progressed. The only thing I would do to it now is maybe some more highlights but that is it. And maybe try and fade the image some more to give it depth. Like it is farther back in the water.
I decided to do some work on the ocean surface to. I was nervous to start it at first but really like the the way it is coming along. I also added the whale in the foreground. This also moved along good and I am happy with the progress so far but still have a lot more to do on it. 

 I decided to use Wyland's method of outlining the whale with white paint. I was going to redo the clouds but I decided to get started on the whales instead.

Here I have added the surface of the water to the painting. My goal was to just get the basic idea down because I felt it would help me with the placement of the mother and calf, which it has and it also defines the sky from the water below. Boy was I nervous about doing it. As I have said before, I don't like making mistakes, (mister perfection), but it is part of my learning process! I either fix it or start all over again. The main thing is to keep at it!!!

Closeup of the whale above. I started out using ultramarine blue instead of black to see if it would blend the whale into the water better.

 The mother whale being add. The drawing of the baby at the surface was an idea I was thinking of using at the time.

In the photo above and blow I went back to using black paint to outline and add basic features to the mother. I use a thinned down black because I want the background to show through a little to help it blend in with the water. 

Once the basic outline and features are done, I start adding some color to define the shape of the whales more. Below I have added some white to the mother along with some simple reflections to both whales.

I then decided to focus all of my attention on this whale. The next several pictures show the progression of  it to where I stopped.
Closeup of one of the flippers. Working on blending and fading it in to the water.
This is where I stopped. I am vary happy with how it looks so fare! It took me about 15 min's to complete. I might tweak it a little more but not much!  

I then decided to do some work on the surface of the water, just above the mother's tail. Please bare with me everyone. I know I have a tendency to jump around on my paintings and I am Trying to break that habit! I added some details to the top and underside of the waters surface to make it look more realistic. I also want it to look like the mother has churned up the surface of the water as she dives back under.

 Here and the next two pictures below I am working on defined the shape, color, and my light source for the mother.

 The rest of the photos here is where I stopped last December. I changed the color on the mother's flipper somewhat, not sure if I am going to keep it that way. Some Humpback whales do not have all white on the top of their flippers.

The baby whale I am going to add to the painting has been frustrating me as to how it should look. My original idea for the painting has changed somewhat so I am still undecided on what I am going to do. This is where I am at with it so fare. More to come soon!