View Full Version : WIP- "Hmmm, definite taste of Acorns"

09-12-2013, 06:41 AM
C&Cs welcome. Note: in my print out from which I am working, the picture is much more vibrant and redder than it appears in the ref pic here, hence my red/oranges in my painting.

09-12-2013, 07:38 AM
Cute !

09-12-2013, 07:44 AM
Your squirrel ...or whatever it is....is gorgeous, but the giraffe (? ) to my eye just does not work well; the nostril looks like an eye, and it looks like a totally different animal...in fact I thought it was snake with a very wierd tongue!

Sometimes photos work as photos, but whenyou try to turn them into paintings, it doesn't work. Perhaps others might disagree with me, but in terms of C&C, I would suggest you rethink this one. Perhaps you have other photos in which you can see more of the animal's head?

09-12-2013, 04:50 PM
what an unexpected subject/ref pix !

because the pix has a very close/shallow depth of field ,
the textures demand close attention ,
and on my screen , the figures in sharp focus also have a saturation of red which ,
to my eye , keep them in front of everything else , so
burnt sienna , umber , ' browns ' are analogous colours which would not fight for attention from the figures .

i would be very cautious about using dark green , dark purple , indigo , etc. as a
' don't know what to do w. the b/g ' , or some other ' clever/typical ' thing -

concentrate on the figures now .

my two cents .


09-13-2013, 03:07 AM
Metaphorica...I just wanted to say, I feel, on re-reading my post above, that it seems a bit harsh.......but it was a first reaction, and given that we are artists putting our work out for the world to see, first reactions from other eyes do matter - we are not just painting for ourselves.

I just hope that what I said did not offend you.

09-14-2013, 11:01 PM
Hi Jackie

Yes, the "whatever it is" is a squirrel. I admit I was a little crestfallen at the response, but as you rightly say, first impressions and all that. I'm still going to complete it, though.
You are right about some photos being no good for pictures. I just hadn't picked this one as being one of them. Once I had one of a harvest mouse (dear little things), and I did a watercolour of it. I couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. My WC teacher pointed out that it was a terrific photo, but there was not enough shift in values for it to work as a painting. So that's the first time I learned about the photo thing. I did another bad one that I didn't ever post here out of embarrasment, but the depth of field on the cat gave it a distorted look. I tried to capture it, but wound up with a floating cat head attached to nothing (the body was in shadow and from an aerial perspective). Bit of a waste of velour, that one.

Well, I've posted 3 here recently, and one seems to be getting a bit more favourable responses. One out of 3 ain't bad, I suppose.

With this squirrel and giraffe, I did learn however that I like La Carte - it's the first time I've worked on it, and I liked it very much. The pastel just glides on and seems to accept lots of layers.
Back to the drawing board...or in this case, easel...thanks again for commenting, and for the apology, it's really okay.

09-15-2013, 05:38 AM
Hi Donna
good of you to have such broad shoulders! Yes, choosing a good photo is fraught with difficulties. perhaps, before starting on another painting from a photo, send it to me and I will tell you if it is a good one to use. People who photograph their cats are often sitting or standing while the cat is way below them - this causes distortions. There can be other problems too. For example This one is delightful............but the dark fur disguises the features so it is impossible to know what is happening around the noses, for instance, and also it is difficult around the area where the paw overlaps the lower cat's body. Also, their heads are squashed against a pillow so are at an unnatural angle. It would not be a good one to use, no matter how cute it is:


I have no doubt you could find some super images in the WC reference library. Just study them carefully, make sure the picture has all the information you need, and that there are no areas you have to "fudge".

Of course if you want to finish your current pic, you should do so. YOU know that the dark oval is a nostril rather than an eye, so hopefully you will end up with an image which pleases you.

You really painted the squirrel beautifully, and I feel sure that you could do an excellent job with a good photo. Do have a look at the animal portraits of MIKE BEEMAN. He sometimes paints "portraits" of animals, and although the heads are sometimes all that he uses, they still work. Studying them might be helpful to you. See how this one floats, but your brain knows it has a body!


09-15-2013, 09:40 PM
Hi Jackie
Thank you for your kind offer to check suitable photos for me, that's very sweet and generous of you, and I would appreciate that, because I seem to do it a lot! (Pick pics that should remain photos and not be painted).

As for the cat photo you posted, I would've painted that in a heartbeat, as you say, they are adorable, but wouldn't have noticed what you point out. I was astonished at how many factors you pointed out that make it not suitable to paint Wish I had your eye!

As for this one, I showed the painting to another friend who also remarked on the gorgeous squirrel but seemed to struggle to identify the giraffe, so that was enough for me...point taken! I liked your idea of adding in the head, as as you say, it would add context. The only issue I see there is that I would have to get another piece of coloured La Carte and somehow "join" it to the existing picture to make the card big enough ...how would I do that without leaving a join line? Or would enough pastel overide that?

Or maybe I could just cut the squirrel out, dust off as much giraffe tongue that's on squirrel's face as I can, refill that with background, and just have a very small squirrel painting.

thanks again

09-15-2013, 09:47 PM
Addendum:as for Mike Beeman, looks like I've come across him before: his website hyperlink was coloured as a link I'd visited at some time in the past.

09-15-2013, 09:51 PM
I also looked around to see how artist's handled the 'problem' of dark faces and noses on cats. It was an interesting exercise; some artists had nailed it, some, hadn't. Here's one I think who nailed it, though it is a watercolour. I imagine providing one made the light direction believable, the problem of the disappearing nose could be handled like this?http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Sep-2013/979263-KGrHqJ,!rgE+jbzd2ZzBQITbSSDWQ60_35.JPG

09-16-2013, 06:09 PM
Well I understand what everyone is saying but you did a great job reproducing the scene in pastels and well worth the effort. You have to be proud of the painting even if you decide just to store it away. I knew right away what it was but understand recommendations. I am still learning also and have many pastels stored away but many on the walls that I love.

The teacher in an art class on colors that I took in local art society had us pick out a picture from the magazine, cut out a 1 to 2 inch square - glue magazine page to watercolor paper and then we had to mix colors to reproduce the missing inch or two exactly so that at a distance no one could tell a piece of the picture was missing. I actually cut out a man fishing on a bank of the river so I had to reproduce that - while I will never hang up the picture - I kept it because I really accomplished something when I managed to do it. It was a great exercise. I have actually had people ask me to reproduce sections of damaged painted furniture/wall hangings and that one exercise has paid off on several projects.


09-17-2013, 02:08 AM
Mataphorica, you can always go on line and find images which help to explain unclear parts in other pictures. It can be helpful.

As for your dilemma about whether to add the head of the giraffe or not...you could stick your first piece down, add another sheet of pastel paper and stick tht carefully down, and then continue. But the "seam" is likely to show if looked at closely, depends how much this bothers you. Alternatively you could brush off the giraffe, redo the squirrel and perhaps rethink what is around the squirrel - that would be a bit of a challenge. Or, as you say, keep the squirrel as a smaller painting, nothing wrong with that either.

You seem tenacious - that can only be good!

09-17-2013, 03:10 PM
Sometimes photos work as photos, but whenyou try to turn them into paintings, it doesn't work. Perhaps others might disagree with me, but in terms of C&C, I would suggest you rethink this one. Perhaps you have other photos in which you can see more of the animal's head?

This is right on the money. Its a wonderful photo but even looking at that at first i struggled to understand what i was seeing... so trying to apply it to a painting...lets just say you're not making it easy on yourself.

That said, I do think the painting worked out nicely I just think its quite confusing as to what it is we're looking at! :)

09-24-2013, 06:26 AM
Thanks, Jackie. LOL, tenacious - that would be a word that applies to me!

Justin, thank you too for your feedback.

I do have an idea now of how to approach things; I'm going to remove giraffe altogether and dust him off - I think the surface - La Carte - will let me do it.

I'm thinking of adding another squirrel on the wall - I have a few favourite squirrel pics, and maybe doing something like a tree behind him.
thanks again for all your help, I'm learning!

09-24-2013, 12:43 PM
good idea to add another squirrel - or two? But do make sure the light is from the same direction on both/all of them.

09-24-2013, 04:59 PM
Oh too cute, the little squirrel in your painting has a little more of an "oh really" look on his face. Nicely done.


09-26-2013, 01:12 AM
Hi Trudy

The squirrel in the ref pic has a surprisingly unfazed look, albeit slightly, "oh really", as you put it. I'm thinking if I remove the giraffe and put another squirrel in with an expression to match, I could make a 'story' out of it. I'm thinking it over...
thanks for your support