Friday, 28 October 2011


I've had a few failures with watercolour lately so have lost a little confidence in my techniques. Not one to be easily defeated though I've persevered and finally came up with something reasonably worthwhile in the form of this wolf portrait. It's 16 x 12 inches on Arches Aquarelle watercolour paper and I used a reference photograph from the Paint My Photo website.

With this one I started out with the eyes before moving up to the ears and working my way down. Mainly using burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna and Warm Sepia mixes for all of the brown areas, and mixes of Paynes Grey, Paynes Grey Blue Shade and Warm Sepia for the fur. Once I had a loose underpainting I went over it with a little opaque white (gouache) to pick out the fur highlights. So I ended up with a fairly presentable wolf portrait. Now what to do.

My initial intention was to envelope the whole thing in a misty effect to give a more mystical feel to it, but as I mentioned before, my confidence was low and I didn't want to ruin yet another promising start. I'd already had to bin my red deer painting (blogged a couple of weeks ago) after attempting a similar effect. So this time I went for the impressionistic/semi-abstract effect of undergrowth I've used before. Can't go far wrong with that! I used the same brown colours and darks as used on the wolf with the addition of a few splashes of Cadmium Red to add a little more interest.

Now, what to call it. Sometimes I have a title to begin with and the picture is inspired by it, for instance my other wolf portrait in pencil from last year 'Desperado'.

That title had been buzzing around in my head for weeks before I started the drawing. I think the definition of the word 'Desperado', a bold desperate outlaw, suits the wolf and it's plight so well. It's hard to find an animal more persecuted than wolves.

 Having used up my best 'wolf painting' title I had to come up with something else. I'm not really one for having 'Desperado 2'....'Desperado 3' etc. which to me would be a bit of a cop out. So I came up with the title 'Outlawed' which although normally a word associated with the days of the old Wild West, goes back further to periods before guns were invented.

In ancient times in Europe there was no death penalty, instead someone would be 'Outlawed' meaning they were excluded from any normal legal protection or human rights and could therefore be killed without any recrimination. In effect, a death penalty. It seems the wolf throughout it's existence has been treated in the same manner, and still is in most of the regions where it still lives wild. Whereas once it was on the endangered species list in America, just as it approached the cusp of recovery, hunting is now being allowed again in several States with the excuse that it is endangering domesticated and farm animals. Well, if they didn't go out and blast most of it's natural prey, such as deer and elk, off the face of the earth for fun then I'm pretty sure nature would take care of itself and populations of all wild species might stabilise. Being an intelligent, shy and reclusive animal a wolf would never willingly come into contact with human settlements unless desperate.

Whoops! I've gone off on one again.....

Anyhow for those reasons I've entitled this painting 'Outlawed' and it is available for sale on the Mighty Fine Art website at a rediculously low price!

1 comment:

sue said...

It has a sad autumnal feel to it and I think Outlawed is a very apt title for his wistful expression.
Maybe I'm just focussing on the 'sad autumnal' bit cos I'm bl**dy cold and miserable after 3 weeks in the sunshine!!

Anyway, lovely work Peter :-)