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Old 10-09-2007, 02:03 PM
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Carey Griffel Carey Griffel is offline
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Baby Zebra With His Mama -WIP Finally Finished!

I thought I would start to share my WIP even though it is going to be a very slow process. (Two-month-old son + naptime = painting about three square centimeters at a time )

This is from references I took myself last year. I had always wanted to see a baby zebra and couldn't believe my luck when our local zoo had one. It was a small zoo and I had ample time all summer to visit, sketch, and see the little guy up close. And take literally thousands of photos.

As I have limited time to paint, I wanted to begin a project that I would be really excited about (so I wouldn't get bored over the long run and so I would have motivation in my bits of time). So here we are.

I began with a sketch on 18x24 watercolor paper...the outline is done, but the drawing is not, so I don't have that to share yet, unfortunately. I got too impatient to get paint on the canvas. I enjoy drawing, but I enjoy painting even more. The drawing was done using a couple of different references with a few alterations to improve composition, etc. I have the photos to reference when necessary, but I would like to work primarily from my drawing. That simplifies matters greatly and I am not so tempted to put in every little detail. This way, I put in that which matters and I omit everything else. (Of course, I need a pretty accurate drawing to work from considering all those stripes.)

This process, by the way, is going to be largely trial-and-error. It's not my usual way of working. One thing I enjoy about painting is that it is basically a system of judgment, it's all about problem solving. What should go where and why, etc. Though I have a good general idea of what the end should look like, that idea will naturally change (hopefully develop for the better) as I make progress. So I'd appreciate any help and insights anyone could share with me.

I'm not here to achieve perfection, I'm here to learn.

***The first photo is a rough outline sketch in vine charcoal. The canvas was pre-primed, but I added 3 or 4 coats of acrylic gesso tinted slightly with raw/burnt umber acrylic. The canvas is 30x40 gallery wrap and I had already painted the sides (which you can see splashing over slightly into the front) using burnt sienna from both W&N and Gamblin. I usually use W&N but wanted to try the Gamblin as the W&N burnt sienna is actually what other brands would call transparent red oxide. I wanted to see the difference. The W&N is more transparent and red (well, duh, I guess).

***The second photo is continuing to use the burnt siennas (mostly Gamblin here), a bit of raw sienna to make things a little more interesting. I wanted a reddish underpainting...I think the end will be very different, but I'm not sure exactly. I want to achieve more depth than this currently gives. One problem I have is with color harmony and color temperature in particular, so I'd appreciate further views on how I'm doing in that department as I reach more towards the end of my WIP.

***The third photo is more of the same (using more W&N than Gamblin). I did use a touch of solvent here and there (because I had purchased some oil of spike lavender and wanted to play with it), but most of the paint is merely scrubbed very thinly. It was fun doing it that way, kind of meditative. Instead of a rag or brushes, I used a technique that someone here mentioned recently...covering my fingers with saran wrap to really scrub the paint in. I loved it, it wasn't as messy as a rag and I did not loose as much paint in the rag this way, and it was better than gloves because gloves are a pain to wear. It was also nice not to worry about washing brushes (or in my case, having paint dry on my brushes as usually happens). I don't like getting messy. And though I don't usually use any toxic pigments, etc, I don't like having my hands covered in anything with a baby around. He's messy enough as it is.


Now I wish I had covered the whole canvas with raw sienna before I had done the sketch. Then I would proceed with the burnt sienna on the background and I'd add the stripes again with the burnt sienna...and I'd sooner come to a more complete-looking picture...it's nice to make yourself believe you're farther along than you really are...but alas, I have to suffer through as it is, it's not worth doing the sketch (or those stripes) over. Perhaps I will do that on my next baby zebra picture.


Critique and comments will be more than welcome along this whole WIP. The updates may be slow, but we'll see how it progresses.

Thanks for looking and maybe helping me out.

~!Carey


"Can We, Mama? Huh? Huh? Can We?"
30x40





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Last edited by Carey Griffel : 10-09-2007 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 10-09-2007, 02:57 PM
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

LOL - I know what you mean with nap times etc. Got a nine month old and a toddler ! Its mostly evenings for me.

This is looking good. I am pulling up a chair.
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Old 10-09-2007, 05:33 PM
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

Looking good! It's nice to see the progress.
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Old 10-10-2007, 08:45 AM
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

Fresh, alive scene; well balanced composition.
It seems to me that the left border of the canvas wants to cover part of the baby's back: some distance is needed there, for a more harmonious structure of the story.

Eduardo
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Old 10-10-2007, 09:08 AM
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

I have a seven-month-old and five-year-old -- I hear you on the time issue! It looks terrific! Keep finding the time to paint! (Making that time is a new creative process!! ) I'll be checking in to see the progress!
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Old 10-10-2007, 10:01 AM
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

Carey.. I'm looking forward to following this thread as you move forward. Your work always has very nice brushwork and use of color.
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Old 10-10-2007, 10:12 AM
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

Carey, this is already looking stunning. The energy and motion is really coming through.

I could paint at night, I just choose to sleep instead.

zzzzzzzz
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Old 10-10-2007, 11:04 AM
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

Quote:
for a more harmonious structure of the story

Good Man!! The men need to try to keep some of the talk about art....composition.....values.....and such.

These women will be talking about brands of diapers if you let them.

I actually tried to figure out if the stripe around the belly showed that the Momma didn't take off those extra pregger pounds yet.

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Old 10-10-2007, 11:35 AM
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

It's going to be a wonderful painting Carey. How did you pick this subject and are you using a reference photo?
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Old 10-10-2007, 11:51 AM
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

Quote:
These women will be talking about brands of diapers if you let them.

Diapers? We used Huggies for a while then switched to the generic Clifford ones because they hold up just as well and cost a lot less.



Maybe one of the men wants to babysit so I have a chance to paint for a few hours?? And Carey too. Because I want to see the rest of those zebras.
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Old 10-10-2007, 12:11 PM
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

Thnx for sharing and explaining your steps. Will watch the process and wish you good luck, Till now it looks good

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Old 10-15-2007, 10:39 AM
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Carey Griffel Carey Griffel is offline
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

Thanks for all the kind words, everyone. It is much funner to paint with friends.

Eduardo - Thanks for the observation. It's a problem in the canvas ratio, unfortunately I do not stretch my own or else I would make the canvas a few inches wider. I played around a lot with the placement of the zebras...for a while I had the mama's head too close to the edge and felt uncomfortable with that. I didn't want the baby any closer to the mama, either. So I'm still debating what to do, but in the end I hope it will be okay, maybe I can do something with the values that will help.

Stapeliad - Wow, I'm glad that I've got energy and motion...that's not an easy thing to accomplish, I hope I can keep that throughout the process!

Terry - Haha. Actually zebras are a lot rounder in the middle than horses are, much more like donkeys in that respect. Though I do know how she feels--her baby here is two months old, too, and I know I sure have some pounds to spare.

And diapers? Well, all I'll say is thank goodness for Sam's Club.

Naturegyrll, I do have reference photos, but not just one. I used a couple for this as the composition was not right in the original photo I picked. I also changed things from the original photos to make a better composition using my knowledge of horse anatomy (extended to zebra anatomy)--I'm not perfect in that knowledge, but I felt confident enough to do this. The photos I am using were all taken by me. The zebra family was at my local zoo and I absolutely fell in love with the little guy.

I thought I'd lost all of my photos, actually. We had reformated my computer last year and I put all the pictures on discs. I didn't put them back on the computer afterwards because I had about 12,000 pictures total and thought I could leave them on the discs for future use. Well, when I tried to access them recently...the discs (only the ones with all the baby zebra pictures, of course!) were bad. I can't tell you how devastated I was!! Luckily, however, I had stored them on our other laptop which we do not use because it will not stay charged up. I didn't think I had done that as at the time it was the computer my husband was using and thus I would have had no reason to put them on there. Thankfully, though, I did.




I have some interesting information to report about the oil of spike. I used it, as I said, out of curiosity in a few parts of the painting. Well, as is my usual unfortunate habit, a week later I found the brush I had used, unwashed. (I should stop doing that, but it's not a big problem as I can always get the paint out to my satisfaction using Mona Lisa Pink Soap, even when I've left the brushes for over a month.) In cases where I have done that using other solvent (oms), the brush is absolutely *rock hard* and requires soaking in the soap.

With the oil of spike, it was hard, but not rock solid and I only had to wash it like regular! I was pretty surprised. Used in the painting, the oil of spike definitely evaporated slower, but my paint dried at about the same rate as if I had used oms (though I could smell the oil of spike in the painting for several days--it may not be as toxic as turpentine or mineral spirits, but you definitely want good ventilation with it--opening the jar as little as I could still filled my whole house up for hours). So I was surprised that it behaved that way in my brush. I think I like it as a solvent for my *first* layer (if and when I ever feel the need to use it)...though it is quite strong and I could see it eating into previous layers if I were to use it in later layers without also mixing it with a bit of oil. Maybe I'll test that and let you know.

~!Carey
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Old 10-15-2007, 11:24 AM
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

Its Huggies for me.

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Old 10-15-2007, 12:30 PM
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

Carey I do the same thing with my brushes. I'm so bad about cleaning them. A horrible habit, it truly is, but they always come clean and somehow last for years.

Does the oil of spike smell like lavender?
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Old 10-17-2007, 12:31 PM
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Re: Baby Zebra With His Mama - WIP

Hi, Stapeliad. (And soap! )

Yes, the oil of spike smells like lavender. I'm not quite sure what to think of the smell, quite honestly. People who are really into smells (candles and such) might love it while others might hate the slightly medicinal quality, it can be a little sickening-sweet. I like it for the most part, though I will take care not to smell it more than I have to. It's definitely better than turpentine, though. (Although some people like that smell, too!)

~!Carey
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