I feel as if I am slow in getting the blog up here this morning. I have been up a while, but have been picking through the many emails that I have here and looking at what others are making for their Christmas gift giving.
I love being friends with so many creative people on Facebook and through the forums. I think it is wonderful to see what everyone is doing and I feel very inspired by all that I see. I believe that artists and creative people feed off of each other, and by congregating at such places like Lumberjocks, Steve Good’s forum and Facebook, we not only share our ideas, but we support each other as well.
I have been so encouraged in the past couple of days from all the nice comments that you have all sent me on my snow leopards painting. Even though at first I was very unsure of which direction to head with it, you have all cheered me on and helped motivate me to stick with it.
When I lived in the Chicago area, I had joined a painting group through the Society of Decorative Painters. Not only did I meet with the group during the regular meetings, but I developed friendships with other members and we met several times a month to share our love of creating. This was an important reason as to why I was able to learn and advance in painting, and I made many friendships during that time that I still carry with me today.
I find that the same applies to woodworking. Fifteen years ago we formed a group that “met” in a chatroom that was hosted by one of the major woodworking magazines. The group met twice a week for probably two hours and we talked about the projects we were working on and answered questions and generally had a fun visit. I remember back then when the internet was new how I marveled at being able to talk to someone in New York state as well as Washington State at the same time. I also still have many of these people as friends, and over the years have met many of them in person as well. Without their friendship and encouragement I don’t know if I would have continued my pursuit of learning woodworking.
We are fortunate to have open communication like this. I find myself stopping in on various Facebook pages several times per day to see what my other creative friends are up to. Only now it seems that the scope has expanded. Where we used to communicate with people from all across the USA, now we are able to forge friendships with others from all corners of the Earth. It is truly a smaller world.
With that said, I will get on to showing the progress I made yesterday on my painting. It snowed most of the day, but we were able to manage to get to the gym and post office. It was apparent when I arrived home that I would be in for the duration, and I took the majority of the day to paint.
As I mentioned yesterday, I changed my plan of action on the snow leopard painting. While it was good to see the painting coming to life, I knew in my heart that initially I was going about painting it incorrectly. When doing fur, it is especially important to paint the things furthest from you and work your way forward. When I had started, I pretty much did the opposite, causing me to have to re-paint the edges of each section and causing it to look unnatural. While it may seem unnecessary to most of you, I will in all probability wind up re-painting the small leopards head and face near the end of the project. I feel that it is the right way to go about it.
So yesterday I began by loosely brushing in the underlying colors and establishing the direction of the fur of the leopards.
While I had done this on the baby leopard, I needed to do the mom the same. While it doesn’t look like much, it is a very important step in the process and to me it is one of the most difficult ones. One of the things that most may not realize is that not only does fur on an animal naturally follow many different directions, but it also varies in length as well. While this may not look like much, it is in essence a road map of how I need to paint the fur in order for the animal to look natural. I find that the natural transition areas are sometimes the most difficult to establish, even though I am looking right at them in a photograph. There are areas that are somewhat random in direction and it is often hard for me to let my mind follow these random patterns and replicate them in the painting. But I try my best.
Once that layer is done, I can begin painting the fur in earnest.
I began by laying in the fur in the center of the body of the mom snow leopard, as I felt that was the part that was furthest from me. This fur was very short and I was still getting used to the paint I was using, as well as figuring out just how I was going to go about filling things in. It was a very slow go at first, but all of a sudden I began seeing the results that I wanted and it encouraged me a great deal. Up until this point, I was still quite uncomfortable in what I was doing and I struggled through trying this and trying that to make things look how I saw them in my head and on the photo. But things began to “click” and I felt much more comfortable and I knew I had finally figured out what I needed to do to continue. It was a good moment for me.
I continued to work on the upper body and shoulder, and worked my way down to the front limb and paw. It is hard to believe that getting this far took well over eight hours for me to do.
By dinner time, I had moved across the entire front limb of the mom. By painting in the fur, the area seemed to “grow” and looks rather out of proportion with the rest of the animal. But this is natural and things will all balance out as I continue on and finish. (I hope!)
I want to mention that at this point, things look rather flat. The fur is not toned or glazed yet, which will give the animal contours and shape it much better. I did do a bit of shading in the middle side section, which set it to the back a bit, but I didn’t want to go too far right now because I feel that it will be better to do all at once, after the fur is painted on the entire animal.
I did do some preliminary glazing/shading in the area behind the baby’s head where the mother’s foot and tail are showing. This was a very undefined area in my photograph and it took a lot of concentration and thought for me to paint. The only way I could really differentiate the tail from the foot was by doing some glazing and shadowing, and it helped me understand where I was at the time and which direction I needed to paint.
It just goes to show that there are no hard and fast rules to follow. Everything is subject to ones’ own discretion. For a difficult area, I think it came out nice and I am very pleased with it. While it probably won’t be a focal point in the final painting, it will certainly play its part in making the painting look realistic and correct.
It was getting late at that point, and I was getting close to quitting, but I did paint a bit further on the chest area. This area has a lot of white in it on my photograph, and I have to be careful not to make it look too uniform or boring. I fear that it will look rather plain until the final steps of glazing and shading are applied, and I am going to have to restrain from picking on it too much right now. While it still has some fill to be painted, it is the type of place I can leave and come back later on to refine, so I think that I will probably wind up doing that.
So that is where we are today. I have hopes of beginning to work on the mom’s head and face today. If I can nail that part, I will be well on my way to having a decent painting. Only time will tell . . .
It is Thursday already, and Christmas is closing in on many. I hope you all are where you want to be with your preparations and taking some time to relax and enjoy the season. I see so many people stressed out and I feel bad for them. Remember that most of the stress you feel is that you put on yourself. Take a breath and try to remember that the most important thing is being with those you love.
Have a great day!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"