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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Visiting Northern England: Portrait Of A Swan

White Swan
20 x 20", Oil on canvas
Rita Salazar Dickerson

There are so many aspects to England that pulled me in and inspired my thought process. The obvious attraction was its overall beauty and charm. Sometimes I felt like I had entered in to the pages of a children's fairy tale. All of the needed ingredients were there: stone cottages nestled in little villages where the butcher still cuts fresh local meat for you, chickens wandering in yards while picturesque sheep dot the rolling green hillsides, and then there was the wildlife. Take this swan for example. The light on her feathers and the reflection in the purple waters made painting her seem like a party.

Below you can follow the steps that I took to render this painting.  

Stage 1: Painting in the shape of the swan, freehand, with a thin wash of  Burnt Sienna.

Stage 2: Painting in the first layer (under painting) of the water.

Stage 3: With a brush and palette knife I applied paint over the wet under painting.

Stage 3: For the neck, I once again painted in the under painting with broad, flat strokes - paying attention to the colors and values.

Stage 4: Once I had the shape of the head in place, it was fun to add texture and more color with thick strokes of paint - transitioning from light to shadow.

Stage 5: I painted the body and its reflection with the same approach as I did with the neck - with a flat under painting and then lots of creamy thick paint on top.

I did a small 6 x 6" first which I always enjoy. Color studies are a nice way of figuring out the general plan in a small scale before I start squeezing out large quantities of paint onto my palette for the large one. Its like a little map that I have created for myself to follow.

Now I will let this painting rest and come back to it later with fresh eyes and make changes if I need to.

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