August 27, 2012 @ 11:39 AM


I want to create a painting of a bird with some mangroves in the scene. Same old, same old? Not really. Even though I have painted numerous pieces of these subjects I am going to attempt something different.

Painting "Ethereal"

I had to think about how I was going to paint this one for a long time. I even lost some sleep about it; got angry and frustrated at myself for not have a single, clear style of painting and tossed back and forth whether to paint in detailed realism or keep it more painterly and loose. I finally decided to try and capture the 'un-capturable' ethereal nature of this scene in a loose, less detailed style as it seems fitting for what I am trying to share in this piece; the fleeting moments of beauty nature will reward you with when you venture out to watch her. Often it is your eyes only that get to witness moments and scenes of stunning beauty. At such times my heart leaps in gratitude and I want everyone to experience what I have experienced. I hope my painting can do this.

Ok I got a little wordy there in the intro. Let me just state that painting like this in a loose style is very hard for me to do. Those details keep calling me and daring my brush to state it! So this piece will definitely be a challenge!

Step 1 and Step 3 of "Ethereal" 24" x 36" (specific details below)


Here is my process and struggle as I try to create a mood, in a loose style with subjects I usually paint with detail.

I am not  going to draw first as that would plonk me right in the middle of all those siren (as in Greek mythology) like details. Instead I used a large brush and thin paint and blocked in the large area of darks with paint thinned with odorless mineral spirits and Liquin (an alkyd medium gel). Colors: ultramarine blue, transparent red oxide and a hint of napthol red/scarlet lake (depending on brand but very similar reds) When mixing this dark I kept to the red side using more oxide than ultra. I then wiped out some of the highlights with odorless mineral spirits on a rag.

I mixed the light colors; titanium white, touch of napthol red/scarlet lake and a touch of the dark mix to gray it down. Had to add a little extra ultra blue to neutralize it more. It is still a little on the pink gray side. Used a large brush again and washed in the lower part of the light area. As I moved up the canvas I changed the light color to a more blue neutral to hint at the sky. Subtle is the key here.

Let dry.

I am struggling already. How do I draw accurately and stay loose! Especially for the bird. I am used to doing detailed accurate drawing in my bird paintings. I decide to draw the bird accurately but then just block in loosely with grays. I also did some placing of the mangrove roots and branches in a very thinned red.

Click here for steps 4 - 6