Shelduck

 

Stage 1

This will be an oil painting 48″ x 24″ and on day one I have roughed out the composition in thin oil paint. I will let this dry for a few days before working on it again.

Stage 2

I’ve started blocking in the areas of water and mud and will attempt to cover the whole picture with ‘local colour’ today to quickly give me an idea of how the picture will look and if it needs any compositional changes.

Stage 3

I’ve finished blocking in the main areas of colour, except for the ducks themselves, and when this is dry I can start painting in some texture, light and detail. At this stage I can stand back and really see if the painting is working.

I’m working from a field painting made on the spot, although I’ve changed some of the elements around in this studio painting for a more pleasing composition.

Sometimes a real life scene will present itself to be painted almost without any changes or editting required, at other times a picture will be the result of certain elements of the landscape rearranged in the artist’s mind to evoke the nature of a place or a habitat.

Stage 4

I’ve finished blocking in the shelducks and their reflections, so the next stage is to start painting the background to a suitable level of finish.

Stage 5

I’ve started adding some form and detail to the slimy, green seaweed and the mud. I’m working mainly from my field painting and from memory.

Sitting for a couple of hours infront of the subject and accutely analysing the colours and forms of seaweed, mud and rocks in order to complete the field painting commits a lot of information to memory that can then be drawn on when executing the finished work.

A few digital photos taken at the time help with details that there isn’t time to get down in the field.

Stage 6

I am working my way through the green seaweed areas, bringing them up to a finished level. The following sequence shows the development of one area towards the bottom right. At this stage I only have the basic blocked in colour with very little form, light or shade.

Stage 7

I’ve added some shadows to the green weed and some pale blue where water has collected in hollows in the weed and is reflecting the blue sky.

Stage 8

Lighter greens on the sun-ward side of the shadows I put in give the weed real form and help to give the effect of late afternoon sunlight.

Stage 9

I’ve added highlights including a few pinpoints of white for the ‘sparkle factor’ where the sunlight glints of the wet seaweed. I’ve also added some paler blue in the very wet places where the water film reflects the blue of the sky. This section of weed is now complete, although I may add a seashell or two…

Stage 10

I’ve worked up the clumps of bladder-wrack that sit amongst the green stuff(!) and have started to work on the mud infront of the seaweed.

Stage 11

Here I’ve started work on the seaweed-covered rock, putting in the dark shadows first and painting over with the brighter colours to give a sense of sunlight shining on and through the bladderwrack.

Stage 12

I’ve added cool highlights for light reflected off the wet seaweed and warm orange-browns for the ‘transmitted light’ where the sun shines through the fronds.

Stage 13

The seaweed-covered rock is now complete and I have started working on the reflections of the rock in the water at the ducks’ feet.

Stage 14

I’ve completed the rock reflections and am now blocking in the broad areas of colour for the water and wet mud, over which I will add details like small pebbles, bits of shell etc.

The dark rock-reflections will be dissected by steaks of grey/purple which are where the mud breaks the surface film of water and so disrupts the mirror effect of the water. However, I’ll put these in when the paint is dry otherwise the brown pigment will mix with the fresh paint and I’ll end up with a gungey mess!

 

Finished painting

I’ve continued in the same vein to the bottom of the picture and finished off the birds and their reflections. This painting can currently be seen at my one-man show at the SOC headquarters, Waterstone House, Aberlady, E. Lothian, Scotland.

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