Part 7: Creating a Critter from My Mind

Here’s Hawk – an emu with pink and yellow hair! The values used for this under painting (including the beak’s forms) are based on a frontal light source from the upper right. As an aside, this painting is only 8 by 10 in.

The beak needs to be in the foreground (closest to the viewer) of the painting and will be the last part to finish. By first completing the background and middle ground (everything but the beak), I can then “move” the beak farther toward the foreground by painting it with stronger values, brighter colors, and more detailed textures.

The eyes are the focal point and their black sections will eventually be lightened. For now, the black enables me to determine my overall range of values in between white and black.

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Part 2: Creating a Critter from My Mind

Using oils to paint a smoothly-blended, multi-colored background is relatively easy because of their lengthy drying time. On the down side, additional layers can’t be added to the background for a few days. Conversely, acrylics dry within minutes and therefore entail a different painting approach.

Thin layers of acrylic paint can be added over one another as soon as the paint dries (15-30 minutes). You can even “erase” (paint over) mistakes and sections you don’t like.

If you want to slow down the drying process, mix a little “retarder” (manufactured by Golden) into each paint color. However, make sure you thoroughly mix the retarder into the paint or you’ll end up with lumps (paint that didn’t get any thinner).

By working the background with layers of thinned paint, I can simply play with values and colors. The background colors are similar to those I plan to use for the emu’s fur/feathers (yellows and browns).  I begin with a few thin base coats to establish preliminary values and colors (which will no doubt change as I work).

My chosen light source is from the upper frontal right. I plan to paint the background’s darker values behind the emu’s lightest values (on the upper right and right side). Conversely, the lighter values need to be behind the darkest values (on the lower left and left side).

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