Saturday, 5 March 2016

Bounty Hunter

 This is my latest watercolour, a very intricate and time consuming painting based on 2 photographs from the Paint My Photo website. It is about 15 x 13.5 inches in size and I'm using my Daniel Smith watercolour paints on a piece of Arches Aquarelle paper.

My initial sketch took me a couple of hours to complete before embarking on the painting itself. I've used a Jellyroll pen to draw the roots of the garlic bulbs. It is like an invisible ink which the paint won't adhere to, so once the paint is applied the roots emerge like magic.
Above is the state of play after 2 days. To be honest, after day one I considered giving up on this one as it appeared to be more difficult than I had envisaged, but with a good dollop of my usual bloody mindedness I decided to persevere and eventually things began to come together.

For the dark around the roots I used Bloodstone mixed with Lunar Blue which granulates quite a bit giving a rich black earthy effect. Once dry, I picked out some of the roots with clean water and a fine brush and dabbed them off  to brighten them up a little more. I also darkened some of the spaces between to give more depth.
Next it was a case of working my way across the page, painting between the leaves and stalks with a red ochre, yellow ochre and transparent brown using a dry brush technique to get the wood grain effect. I've used various greens and yellows for the leaves but also some blues and purples as well as Shadow Violet to get the tone variations and give more depth. I've washed areas of the actual bulbs with a weak Cerulean blue and some gold to make them less pristine and I'll be picking up these colours in the little bird too so that the colours flow and match nicely. 
 The bright red string which binds the garlic bunches form a triangle with the bird which is a trick to help to get the eye moving around  the scene before it eventually settles in the corner where the beak is pointing.
Above you can see that the majority of the painting is complete but at this stage I mixed a weak wash of pale gold and glazed over most of the painting to warm it up and also to smooth out some of the harsh edges before starting on the little bird.
Above is the completed painting. The bird is a nuthatch but I've emboldened his colouring so that he isn't quite so lost in the painting. He does look more like a kingfisher now though.

It has taken about 36 hours to create this which is a lot of work for a watercolour and I've yet to make the frame which will be 3 or 4 hours more, but over all I'm very pleased with this painting.

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