MTM CLASSROOM : 15 th January to end January 2008 FUR AND FEATHERS
I hope you will join me, relax and have some fun, participate and hopefully we will all experience something new . I am going to post my tips and techniques over the next few days. Please feel free to ask questions, post your W.I.P’s and share with us your favourite books , artists and videos on this subject so that we can learn from each other. We have two weeks to experiment,or sit back and watch others experimenting (lazy thing you!!) and maybe have a go at painting a bird or an animal. I am really looking forward to the time with you all. I am no expert but really enjoy painting these living creatures so will do my best.
If you intend painting from a photograph (and there are some wonderful ones in the Reference Library) try to find one that gives you a nice close-up view of the lie (or the direction) in which the fur or feathers grow.
It takes practice to paint fur or plumage and it really is worthwhile to study the work of other artists. Some paintings are very detailed whilst others merely suggest texture.
My own work is fairly detailed. Although smooth surfaces are better for painting detail, I tend to enjoy gallery wrapped canvas or canvas board. I like the slightly rough surface which allows a (hopefully) more ‘painterly’ style to come through.
Materials: As I have mentioned, canvas is my choice but smooth board (illustration board) is a good support for really detailed work. Or of course, you can cover the support with gesso, sandpaper the first layer, re-gesso, sandpaper again until you achieve the necessary smoothness.
I start my work with larger brushes – A mixture of various brands , flat 30, (a local manufacturer Boesner, size 24 , a medium long flat, a number 10 round . All these brushes are specifically for Acrylics. For the finer work I use Kolinsky Rotmarder (very very similar to sable but not as expensive). Here the brushes are two riggers – 0 and 1 and number 1 round and 4 round.
Brushes can vary in size from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, we all have our favourite brushes and they are probably totally different to mine.
The paints I use are Liquitex heavy bodied. I find they work for me and although rather thick, I can make the paint as thick or as thin as I wish with the addition of Liquitex Gloss Medium and Varnish and the minimum of water. I will explain this later.
Getting Started: The initial drawing is very important while it gives me the security of knowing the proportions are right.
A good idea is to buy a soft toy (there are incredibly life-like ones available). This is a good way to observe the direction of fur, the colours, the thickness etc. A bonus is that you have an animal that is going to stay absolutely still!!!!!
This is a painting of a monkey which I painted after taking many photos and sketching the little fellows who were scampering around our cabin in a national park in South Africa. There is no substitute for watching animals in real life. Of course , we can’t all be scampering off to South Africa. I am fortunate in that my family live there and I need to visit at least every two years. However, there are zoos where most animals can be observed. There are the sections in zoos where children are able to stroke animals and there you have the opportunity to really see in which way the fur lies. A little more disturbing (because their eyes are so lifeless) are the exhibitions in Natural History museums where various birds and animals remain forever frozen in time. Take your sketch book and draw draw draw.
If you are fortunate enough to own a pet, cat or dog, horse or pot-bellied piggy, stroke the hair and see the way each layer overlaps the other.
That’s all from Hamburg at the moment. See you tomorrow.