Sunday, October 23, 2016

How long does it take you?

This question of how long does a painting take has variable answers. First comes the research time. My husband and I tend to spend many hours in the field watching and photographing birds. The more time spent watching birds the easier it becomes depicting them. It helps having a quality SLR so as to limit the distortion that is prominent in low quality cameras. We've seen a multitude of paintings in the last few years where my husband quickly picked out that the artist either used someone else's photos without putting in the required field work, or that the camera distorted the birds image and they then unknowingly painted those distortions. Being the curious types, we questions these artists and politely suggest they go bird watching to gain valuable information and if at all possible work from their own reference material as it does make a difference.
 Southern Alberta, we were photographing Curlews in the area.

 Dutch Creek, the hoodoos caught my attention and I caught my husbands attention.

Northern BC, too funny that I tend to tell my husband that he walks into my landscapes and yet I see I must do the same to him.

Then comes the downloading of a multitude of images, discarding the worst ones, the ones that will never be good enough to use, though I tend not to be ruthless enough in this department. Then I print out varied images (poses) onto quality photo-paper that I've chosen to fit the design of my painting. I don't slavishly copy the photo for if I wanted photo realism I would frame the photo. As creator of my ideas many works change throughout the painting process. When I work in acrylic I either start with the bird then do the background or I pre-paint a background that may sit for up to five years before the right bird or animal feels right for the design structure.
Background I designed well before a bird was chosen.

When painting in watercolor I used to  design the whole painting leaving ample room for alterations and changes as I work.
Highly designed painting, drawn out in pencil first.

Though now I sometimes grab a brush and draw with paint in a free manner, especially fun to do with florals. Some paintings have sat in what I considered a finished state for a few years when I decide the painting can be much better. Sometimes reworking a piece is a good idea, other times it heralds disaster.
This still-life set up was freely drawn with the brush, no preliminary drawing beforehand.

My husband and I were invited to exhibit our work in the Wildbird Gallery at the Wildbird General Store in Edmonton and also to participate in the 27th anniversary of serving the birding public.
Vinnie the Peregrine Falcon and a couple of owls were in attendance.
Here is Vinnie, sorry no photos of the owls as there were so many people around the owls Gerald could not get close for a photo.
Here am I, busy painting a hummingbird. During the event I was asked that wonderful question of how long it would take to complete. Well I had no idea at the time if I would finish it yesterday or not. When I paint I lose myself to the process. Even though I spent time chatting with children and adults, I kept painting. Took a few breaks and was surprised when Gerald said it was 4:00pm as I began at 11:00am.
These are the images I worked on. I sketched the Rufous hummingbirds onto watercolor paper and painted the backgrounds the day before as seen in the lefthand image. The bottom right image was worked from that state to a finish during the the event. I can now answer that wonderful question how long will it take me to paint the hummingbird,  I now know that the 5 x7 inch painting took  four and a half hours start to finish. Mind that each painting created has a multitude of variables, so one painting may take four hours while another the same size may take ten hours, it all depends on the subject and the amount of detail.

The painting process consisted of using a fine tip brush and dabbing tiny bits of color onto the paper to capture the colorful iridescence that the birds display as well as using subtle washes of color built up one on the other.

Behind me are Gerald's watercolor paintings and some of my hand-built nest projects. In the left hand side of the photo are my acrylic paintings. Lou was mentioning that my bird painting proportions are "right on" made me feel pretty good to have his approval of my work.

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