Small, but big, painting study

Daily Art 07-10-2018 painted bird figurine study

I love following along with drawing and painting classes — partially because learning things is huge for me, but also because when someone else has mapped something all out for your it’s easier to get started and move forward. But for me it can be a way to procrastinate on the important process of finding my own path.

While I get familiar with painting in acrylics and explore what the medium has to offer, I’ve been hesitant to paint out something on my own. So it felt like a big step forward when this little study spontaneously happened.

I was mainly looking for a way to play around with some paints sitting in my DIY stay-wet palette box while my landscape project was drying. I sat down at my easel with a practice canvas, picked up my big new filbert, and jumped in by roughly toning the canvas with a mix of yellow ochre, black, and white. Trying to figure out what to do next, it occurred to me that I could actually…paint something.

Using a black & white photo I had taken of this bird figurine as reference, I jumped in by sketching with a small filbert directly on the canvas instead of drawing it out with a pencil first. I tried to keep a whole bunch of things in mind as I painted, like edges, areas in light and shadow, reflected light, values, and brushwork. I experienced that moment where I had to just make myself put the brush down, because it would have been easy to keep fussing with it and undo the parts I actually liked.

Working with the limited palette of black, white, and yellow ochre was awesome. It helped remove some of the decision making regarding what color to use, and got me to focus more on values and all of the other things I’m learning about. I see why instructors recommend it as a starting place.

From several feet back, there’s a really nice value composition going on with this subject. I could see exploring more treatments with this reference image!

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