Painting “Ralphie”

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“Ralphie”

HELLO! THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON THIS ADVENTURE OF CREATING “RALPHIE”.

I AM A SELF-TAUGHT ARTIST. MY SYSTEM FOR BUILDING A PAINTING EVOLVED THROUGH YEARS OF WORKING WITH THE MATERIALS AND DISCOVERING WHAT WORKS FOR ME. IF YOU ARE NEW TO PAINTING, I HOPE THAT WHAT I HAVE TO SHARE ABOUT MY OWN DISCOVERIES WILL HELP YOU IN SOME WAY.

MATERIALS

CANVAS:  36″ X 48″

ACRYLIC PAINT (LIQUITEX BASICS):   BURNT SIENNA – RAW SIENNA – LIGHT BLUE VIOLET – COBALT BLUE – THALO GREEN – HOOKER’S GREEN – TITANIUM WHITE – BLACK – NAPLES YELLOW

OIL PAINT (WINSOR & NEWTON):  TITANIUM WHITE

BRUSHES (M. GRUMBACHER, LOEW-CORNELL, ROYAL, PRO ARTE, ROBERT SIMMONS):  ROUND AND FLAT IN SIZES SMALL TO LARGE

MEDIUMS (LIQUITEX):  GLAZE / SLOW-DRI MEDIUM

EQUIPMENT:  WATER PITCHER AND PAPER TOWELS TO RINSE BRUSHES BETWEEN PAINT COLORS / PALETTE / EASEL

STEP 1:  THE ROUGH OUTLINE

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WHEN I BEGIN, THERE ARE USUALLY TWO PATHS TO DECIDE BETWEEN. I CAN EITHER PAINT IN THE BACKGROUND FIRST, THEN THE HORSE. OR, PAINT IN THE HORSE, THEN THE BACKGROUND. IN THIS CASE, I ALTERNATED BETWEEN BOTH THROUGHOUT THE PAINTING.

WITH A MEDIUM ROUND BRUSH, I SKETCHED A ROUGH OUTLINE OF THE HORSE TO GET THE PROPORTIONS AND FORM MOSTLY RIGHT. I DON’T GET TOO FUSSY AT THIS STAGE. I JUST WANT TO STAKE OUT WHERE THE HORSE WILL INHABIT ON THE CANVAS.  THE LINES COULD HAVE BEEN MORE ANATOMICALLY CORRECT HERE, BUT I HAD AN ADORABLY CURIOUS CAT ON MY LAP KEEPING ME AN ARM’S LENGTH AWAY FROM THE CANVAS:

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WHEN HE FINALLY VACATED MY LAP TO CHASE AFTER ONE OF HIS FAVORITE PAINT BRUSHES, I GOT TO WORK ON STEP TWO.

STEP 2: FILLING IN THE FORM

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I FILLED IN THE FORM WITH A FOUNDATION LAYER OF BURNT SIENNA  AND BLACK AS A MARKER TO MYSELF OF WHICH LINES I WAS GOING TO KEEP. ADJUSTMENTS TO THE HORSE’S FORM WILL BE MADE THROUGHOUT THE PAINTING (SUCH AS ELONGATING THE FRONT LEG).

AT THIS STAGE, I’VE ALSO BEGUN TO MARK OUT WHERE SOME OF THE SHADOWS AND HIGHLIGHTS WILL BE.

STEP 3: FOUNDATION LAYERS

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BEFORE GETTING TOO DETAILED WITH THE HORSE, I PAINTED IN A FOUNDATION LAYER FOR THE SKY. AT THIS STAGE, IT DOESN’T MATTER IF I PAINT OVER THE EDGES OF THE HORSE. IT IS ONLY A FOUNDATION LAYER OF BURNT SIENNA AND I WILL BE ADDING MULTIPLE LAYERS OF PAINT TO BUILD UP THE COAT AND MAKE IT LOOK SMOOTH.

FOR THE SKY, I MIXED LIGHT BLUE VIOLET WITH TITANIUM WHITE TO GET A LIGHTER, DAY BLUE. USING A LARGE FLAT BRUSH, I PAINTED LEFT TO RIGHT AND MADE SURE TO BLEND OUT ANY LINES THAT HAD A BUILD UP OF PAINT.

THIS BASIC LAYER OF CLOUDS WERE PAINTED WITH WHITE ACRYLIC AND A MEDIUM ROUND BRUSH. LATER, I WILL GO OVER THEM WITH WHITE OIL PAINT TO GIVE THEM A FLUFFY LOOK. I MIXED TWO BATCHES OF WHITE OIL PAINT. ONE WITH A DOT OF RED TO GET A SOFT PINK HUE, AND THE OTHER WITH A DOT OF YELLOW. IT IS VERY SUBTLE, BUT IN THE FINISHED PAINTING, THE CLOUDS IN THE TOP RIGHT HAVE MORE COLOR, AND THEREFORE LOOK CLOSER.

STEP 4: REDEFINING THE FORM

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WITH A MEDIUM FLAT BRUSH, I PAINTED IN THE GROUND IN A SOLID BLACK. I DIDN’T ORIGINALLY HAVE PLANS TO PAINT IN A BAY, BUT THIS IS WHERE MY PAINTBRUSH STOPPED AND I LIKED THE LOOK OF IT. LATER, I WILL MIX COBALT BLUE AND TITANIUM WHITE FOR THE WATER.

THE HORSE IS WELL DEFINED NOW, BUT THE FORM IS STILL IN FLUX. I WILL MAKE SMALL ADJUSTMENTS THROUGHOUT THE PAINTING. AT THIS STAGE, MY FOCUS IS ON ADDING A FEW MORE LAYERS OF BURNT SIENNA AND BLACK BECAUSE PAINT LINES ARE STILL VISIBLE.

FOR THE EDGES, I USED A MEDIUM ROUND BRUSH WITH A LITTLE BLACK PAINT. THEN I BLENDED IT INWARD WITH BURNT SIENNA. THE SHADOWS AND HIGHLIGHTS ARE BEGINNING TO TAKE SHAPE. I MIXED BURNT SIENNA WITH RAW SIENNA FOR THE HIGHLIGHTS AND ADDED A FEW DROPS OF GLAZE.

I’VE BEGUN TO PLAY WITH THE MOVEMENT OF THE HORSE’S TAIL AS IT TROTS. THAT WILL BE THE LAST THING TO BE PAINTED.

STEP 5: HIGHLIGHT & SHADOW FOUNDATIONS

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OKAY, SO SHE LOOKS A BIT SCARY AT THIS STAGE! IF IT WERE A HALLOWEEN PAINTING, I’D STOP HERE. BUT THERE IS A PURPOSE FOR THIS SINEWY STAGE. IT IS A FOUNDATION LAYER FOR THE BONE AND MUSCLE STRUCTURE.

FROM HERE, I WILL USE A MIXTURE OF BURNT SIENNA, RAW SIENNA, AND GLAZE TO GIVE THE MUSCLES AND BONES A NATURAL LOOK. I LIKE THE WAY PAINT MIXED WITH GLAZE ADDS COLOR AND HIGHLIGHTS WITHOUT ENTIRELY PAINTING OVER THE PREVIOUS LAYERS. THE UNDER LAYERS CAN STILL BE SEEN IN THE FINAL PAINTING.

I’VE BEGUN TO PLAY WITH THE FORM OF THE MANE, BUT IT IS A BIT FLAT HERE. I WILL ADD MORE BODY AND MOVEMENT LATER ON. IF YOU’RE WONDERING WHAT THE SILVER IN THE HAIR IS FOR, I WAS TESTING OUT THE COLOR FOR HIGHLIGHTS AND DETERMINED I NEEDED MUCH LESS OF IT. EVENTUALLY, I USED WHITE MIXED WITH GLAZE FOR THE HIGHLIGHTS.

STEP 6: DETAILS

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WHEN I PAINT ANIMALS, AND THE EYES ARE FINALLY DONE, I GIVE THE ANIMAL A NAME. “RALPHIE” POPPED INTO MY HEAD AND IT SEEMED TO SUIT HER.

THE SINEWY BONE AND MUSCLE STRUCTURE HAS BEEN SOFTENED WITH FOUR OR FIVE LAYERS OF GLAZE MIXED WITH BURNT SIENNA & RAW SIENNA AND NAPLES YELLOW & ORANGE FOR THE MORE PRONOUNCED HIGHLIGHTS. FOR THE HOOVES, I USED WHITE MIXED WITH GLAZE TO BRING THEM OUT OF THE SHADOWS.

THE DISTANT GROUND IS BEGINNING TO TAKE SHAPE. I MIXED THALO GREEN AND NAPLES YELLOW FOR THE BAY AREA.

STEP 7: CLEANING EDGES

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ONCE RALPHIE AND THE BACKGROUND WERE COMPLETE, I BEGAN TO CLEAN UP ANY SMUDGES OR STRAY PAINT LINES. SOMETIMES THIS REQUIRED MIXING PAINT TO PAINT IN A PORTION OF THE SKY OR LAND. BUT MOST OF THE WORK OF CLEANING UP WAS ON THE MANE AND TAIL. WHEN I’M PAINTING FORM, I DON’T CONCERN MYSELF WITH MESSY EDGES. I CAN ALWAYS GO BACK LATER AND PAINT OVER THE STRAY MARKS, AS SEEN BELOW.

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ONCE THE EDGES WERE CLEAN, I USED THE SAME SMALL, ROUND BRUSH AS SEEN IN THESE PICTURES TO PAINT INDIVIDUAL STRANDS OF HORSEHAIR. I PRESSED MY FINGER AGAINST THE CANVAS TO STEADY MY HAND, BUT IT WAS PICKING UP WHITE OIL PAINT. WHEN WORKING WITH OIL PAINT, I HAVE TO TAKE CARE TO NOT ACCIDENTALLY SPREAD IT ONTO TO REST OF THE PAINTING. ACRYLIC DRYS VERY FAST, SO I’M USED TO TOUCHING THE CANVAS ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER I’VE PAINTED.

STEP 8: LAST STAGE CHANGES

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“Ralphie”

I STEPPED BACK TO MAKE SURE ALL PARTS OF THE COMPOSITION WORKED WELL TOGETHER AND FOUND THE GREEN IN THE BACKGROUND TOO DISTRACTING. I DECIDED TO MUTE IT WITH A MIXTURE OF HOOKER’S GREEN AND GLAZE. I ALSO CORRECTED THE HORIZON LINE AND ADJUSTED THE SHAPE OF A FEW CLOUDS. THEN, SHE WAS READY. I HUNG HER PORTRAIT OVER THE FIREPLACE AND SHE HAS QUITE A STATELY, FRIENDLY PRESENCE IN THE ROOM.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME ON THIS ADVENTURE OF CREATING “RALPHIE”. I HOPE MY PROCESS HAS INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE YOUR OWN ANIMAL PORTRAIT.

 

Fine art prints and products featuring “Ralphie” can be found at:  http://fineartamerica.com/featured/ralphie-l-w-turek.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

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