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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Challenging Myself

Although the bulk of my work still lies in painted feathers (and probably always will), lately I've been pushing myself to play more with canvas.  Many friends at shows over the last several years have been encouraging me to do so, but I resisted... until last Autumn.

I started with that 16x20 of The Auld Man and His Flock (sheep on the Trotternish in Scotland) and learned SO much from that one.  For the past 20 years feathers have been my canvas and I know how acrylic paints behave on such a support.  They glide on and blend easily for me... I've learned how to handle the brush so the barbs of the feather won't split.  But canvas?  That's a whole different animal!  Feeling still too intimidated with oils, as for an acrylic painter it's rather like learning a new language, I kept to acrylics in painting The Auld Man.  And I learned how thirsty canvas is in comparison to feathers... and that one really should use Gesso before painting on canvas!  Lessons learned!  Obviously I don't Gesso a feather!

I'm about 2/3 through my second experiment on canvas, and I'm finding this time it's going a bit easier.  Along with using Gesso (what a difference!) I'm also using underpainting more as well as a lot more glazing to achieve the desired effects.  Acrylics dry so quickly, so glazing in layers and details over this much larger surface is immensely helpful.  I'm applying some of the things I've learned from Robert Walton and LeRoy Jesfield in the two classes I've taken with them.  Bob's class was in oils, but LeRoy's class was in acrylics and because of him I learned you can apply the same glazing techniques as you do in oils.  I think it's made a big difference in my painting.

Eilean Donan Castle. Progress photo. 16x20 acrylics on canvas

I still have a fair amount of work to do on this one, but it's coming along.  The bridge will have as much detail worked into it as the castle does.  The midground, foreground, and left side of the castle still need work as of the taking of this photo, but since then the castle has been completely finished and just the mid and foreground are yet to be completed.

This is being painted from my own photo.  I was very fortunate to have been camped nearby in Glenshiel where I could come and visit the castle first thing in the morning.  I was also blessed with a stunning sunny morning too - with the early morning sun at my back, I got several great reference photos from which to work.

I'll be coming back to this castle.  I hope to return to Scotland in 2012, this time with my teenaged son in tow.  We plan to climb the Cuillin Mountains next time.  Exploring this beautiful country will be such a fantastic experience for my son, and I am very much looking forward to returning.

1 comment:

Dyche Designs said...

Wow, what a great piece. Wish I had your level of skill.