Saturday, March 13, 2010

Painted buffalo skull.


My neighbor, friend, irrigator, helper asked me if I would paint a white buffalo on his buffalo skull about 2 years ago. Well I finally got it done. Painting on skulls is definitely a different surface.
After talking to other artists who paint on skulls, I prepared the skull by first making sure the skull was clean and then sprayed it with a clear acrylic spray paint. After that dried, I used acrylic gesso on the forehead where the major painting was going to be.
I decided to keep it pretty simple, and just paint a bull portrait. I drew the portrait on and then kept the background in sky blue and then winged it for the color of the buffalo as I have never seen a white buffalo. I have seen many pictures, only to find out that they crossed buffalo with white domestic cows so they were not true color of a white purebred buffalo.
I also found out that most buffalo born white turn back to the browns of normal buffalo with age. So I kept the head dark for contrast and used lighter color for the hump and back.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Big Horn sheep painting


A week or so ago, my friend from Dubois, Wyoming, Gary Keimig, who is also a western and wildlife artist, challenged some of his blog followers to paint a portrait of one of the young Whiskey Mountain Big Horn rams he had taken a picture of on one of his and his wife's (Vickie) jaunts out in the country side around the Dubois area to cure a little cabin fever. Gary often displays his photos on his blogs and he is a pretty good photographer.


Anyways, I took him up on his challenge and I also thought it would be fun to post the whole thing on my blog - from start to finish.




Start to Finish Big Horn Ram painting.




The photo of Gary's that I was using is 7" X 7" or thereabouts. I didn't have a square canvas and I didn't want to stretch my own this time, but I did have an old 18 X 14 canvas that I had somewhat painted out. So I decided to use it and use the middle 14 inches for the portrait. Word of warning here, most of the background was pretty dark so it can be kinda hard when first starting to get the right colors and values going. It is much easier to use a fresh canvas but I save my old paintings that I don't think are worth saving and paint over them.


I used a white pastel pencil and lightly penciled in the grid for guidelines. Some artists use tracing paper to do this, I like to work directly on the canvas. Using the grid gives you guidelines and makes the drawing go faster. A lot of the times I will just starting drawing with my paint.


Blocking in


I begin my blocking in with background changes first. That gives me a better view of what my ram is going to look like and if I have him drawn correctly. Besides I want the ram in front of the background so I work from back to front. My background is going to be real impressionistic as the ram is my focal point.
I don't like the background yet, but it will do until I get the ram blocked in more, I put my darkest darks in and use a middle tone for the underhair of the ram.
I just roughly get him blocked in. But I like the placement so far.
The dark corner is my finger over my camera lens!

Painting the eye




I got him coming around pretty well. I also have changed the background to just about where I will leave it. I use the colors of the background of the photo so I have the natural colors (pretty much) of his habitat.


I also paint the eye now. I use to wait until last to paint the eyes in, but now I do it first before I start really finishing the animal. I have found that when I paint the eye first, I get the character of the animal better.

90 % Done



I have him going pretty good at this point. I have changed the background a little more, not much but it is working better for me now.

I have his horns going about right, but at this point I have so much wet paint that I am beginning to lose what I have and making mud. So it is time to let it tack up a little.

I will take it to an easel in the living room for a while too.
I do that so I can see it in normal living light and also I can look at it now and again and see where I need to improve or change.

Just a little more tweaking.


I am thinking he is pretty much finished. But after looking at him in the living room, I can see I need to change some things.
I have a straight line going down his shoulder from the tip of his horn, need to adjust that. Also, minor changes to his face. Shorten his muzzle up a tad, adjust the color values on his face. Also I see two parallell lines just under his horn in the background, I will take them out.
I am also going to adjust the background a little too. He's coming along.