Barnacle Geese


Stage 1

This will be an acrylic painting of part of a flock of barnacle geese coming in to land in a field on the Inner Hebridean island of Islay. On a tinted background I have started to rough in a few bird shapes and have indicated where certain horizontal elements of the background will be positioned.

I always draw directly with the paint – it is so much quicker and freer and it allows one to rapidly block in areas of tone. It is also easier to wipe off than it is to rub out pencil lines.

Stage 2

The geese are taken from sketches made on Islay and from watching slowed down video footage which enabled me to really see what was going on with those wings! I’m starting to get more of a feel for how the painting might look at this very early stage.


Stage 3

I’ve finished ‘drawing’ in the geese refining shapes and adjusting positions until I was happy with the overall look. As this was done in thinned down paint, which dries very quickly, it allows me to add colour now without disturbing the underlying drawing.

Stage 4

Still using fairly thin paint I have blocked in the main areas of colour for the background: the grassy field; the line of rushes at the back of the field; an area of long, dry grass behind and then a heather-clad hillside rising beyond it.

Stage 5

I’ve started putting in some ‘local colour’ on the birds. The paint is being applied quite quickly and relatively crudely at this stage, just to give me an idea of how the picture as a whole is shaping up.

Stage 6

I’ve finished putting the basic colours in on the birds so now the whole painting is broadly roughed out and I can see at this early stage if I think it is working and what might need changing.

Stage 7

I’ve started working on the distant hillside at the back in opaque colour. I make up a good quantity of the four or five colour mixes I need, in sealable pots. As acrylics dry very quickly this allows me to work on a passage of the painting over a few days without the need to re-mix colours to match areas I have already painted.

Stage 8

I’ve completed the background hillside and the juncus sedge and am about to start working on the grass.

Stage 9

I’ve almost completed the grass now. The bottom few inches are partly done and the bottom right corner is as yet untouched. The addition of these stronger greens has helped to lift the colour values of the picture.

Finished painting

Here is the finished painting. Sorry it has taken so long to update this blog. The painting was exhibited at the end of last year. It took me far too long to complete – never again!!!

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