Sunday, February 15, 2015

Waterton National Park Bear Painting in acrylic from start to finish.

I love bears and I love watching and painting them. Last spring we camped in Waterton to study bears as they grazed on the open mountainside meadows. In all we were blessed with seeing about eight different bears and the meadows were abundant with a blaze of colorful blossoms.
 Mostly I paint tightly with high detail so this time I made a conscious decision to paint in a looser style. Instead of doing a highly detailed drawing onto canvas I only noted the bear and the mountains basic outline with a bit of detail to keep me on track. Keeping with the notion for my brush strokes to have more freedom I painted standing up, normally I sit while painting. Mixing a good quantity of acrylic gel into the paints brushed on with a one inch brush in a very loose manner to cover the canvas gives an initial color tone.

 The next step was to mix color with less gel though still keeping the colors washy yet darker tone shaping the forms with paint. The colors are Liquitex Cadmium red med hue, cadmium yellow light hue and Ultramarine blue (green shade) as well as titanium white mixed in to shape the moody spring sky that blends into the snow ridges on the mountain. I always use quality paints and high quality canvas to work on. It costs more but is well worth the extra dollars spent.

 Adding more paint and less gel the painting advances as more detail is added. Greens are all made up of blends of Cadmium yellow and ultramarine blue with varying touches of red to tone and mute some areas.

 I now push the paintbrush flowers with vivid pure strokes of cad red & cad yellow and add white to ultramarine to define the blue flower shapes.

 Passages of gray tones are created using the primary colors to add depth to effectively push the lighter mountains back into the distance. With a touch of burt sienna into the ultramarine the foreground is glazed to tone down some areas and some of the paintbrush flowers are toned down.

 The completed painting converted to black and white on the computer to check tonal balance.

The painting is complete, at least at this point I believe it to be. I will leave off painting at this point and see how I like it a week from now. Sometimes I get too close to a piece and don't see the flaws till later so its best to leave it alone and work on the next. Actually I work on up to three paintings at a time  bouncing back and forth between them. If I get stuck on what to do next I switch to another to keep the momentum going, well thats the theory if alls going well. This painting which is 16x 20 inches took about one week to produce. Title which came to me as I was painting is "Watching the Hikers"


Carol Blackburn said...

Hi Tess, the bear painting is lovely. Great title too. I hope things are good with you and yours. Blessings!

john said...

It was fascinating to read about your process. Great job. I have never even tried acrylic gel. Now I need to get some and see if I can do better with it than my usual tiresome routine.

tess stieben said...

Carol, thank you I am doing pretty good presently, nice to read your comments, I quite enjoy them.

John I appreciate your views as I greatly admire your work. I find the gel is nice to add when doing my rough ins for the background to coat the canvas without too much invested in detail. Its also great to thin paint thats a bit thick. I use Liquitex varnish gel.