Colored Pencil art

Well it's winter in the Southern Hemisphere and I have not been painting much, so I decided to try some colored pencil Art for a change. I am new to this medium but have picked up some helpful tips on the web. I bought myself a set of Polychromos by Faber-Castell, let me just mention that these pencils are oil based and of superb quality, for layering. I used mix-media paper 140 lb by Canson.

Green Mamba  

Green Mamba  

The Green Mamba is a common snake found in Southern Africa, usually in trees, seldom found on the ground.  The venom is dangerously neurotoxic, similar to the Black Mamba but not as potent.

Citrus Swallow-tail butterfly

Citrus Swallow-tail butterfly

This is one of Southern Africa's most common butterfly, found in gardens.  

Art Expo

Last Tuesday I set up an expo of my paintings, at a retail mall in Mandala Cafe Restaurant, this is an opportunity to show 21 of my paintings for art lovers to critique...so far the comments have been very positive.

 

Expo at Mandala Cafe in Monticello Casino

Expo at Mandala Cafe in Monticello Casino

Bee-eaters

My latest work, southern Carmine bee-eaters, these colorful birds are found socializing in large colonies. Most often their nests are burrowed into clay in steep river banks.

Southern Carmine Bee-eaters

Southern Carmine Bee-eaters

Toucan

The keel-billed toucan, also known as sulfur-breasted toucan or rainbow-billed toucan, is a colorful Latin American bird, found from southern Mexico to Venezuela and Colombia. It is the national bird of Belize. I used to have quite a few in Guatemala. I decided to paint one of these birds showing off their very colorful beak.

Keel-billed toucan, work in progress

Keel-billed toucan, work in progress

The finished painting.... 

Toucan, oil on canvas completed

Toucan, oil on canvas completed

Eagle Owl portrait

Well it's been some time since I have painted an owl, so I decided to paint a portrait of the Spotted Eagle Owl (Bubo africanus). This is a medium sized owl and one of the smaller eagle owls, the facial disk is off white to pail ochre with yellow eyes, very attractive. It has prominent ear tufts, dusky brown upper body.

Started off by working the eyes an beak, together with the dark areas

Started off by working the eyes an beak, together with the dark areas

At this stage I block in all the under feather dark colors to then go over with the lighter colors on a new layer.... 

At this stage I block in all the under feather dark colors to then go over with the lighter colors on a new layer.... 

Three days and 4 layers later, the spotted eagle owl is complete.... 

Spotted Eagle Owl, complete, oil on canvas, 20x20cm

Spotted Eagle Owl, complete, oil on canvas, 20x20cm

Zebras update

Well, finally approaching completion of this painting, taking on zebras requires time and patience, much to do on the stripes. 

Three's Company..... 

Three's Company..... 

Almost complete, just some detailing work remaining... 

Almost complete, just some detailing work remaining... 

Black Rhino

Black Rhino painting I did a while back, sadly this magnificent African mammal is critically endangered due to excessive poaching for its horn. Over 65000 in 1970 down to 2300 in 1993, now the current population is 5055, mostly found in 3 Southern African countries, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia, with some populations in Kenya.

Black Rhino

Black Rhino

Backgrounds are just as important

When I started painting wildlife in oils, two years ago, I did not spend a lot of effort and time on my backgrounds. This was partly due to the fact that I was learning and would challenge myself with the subject, rather than what was behind. I soon became aware that the background brings the subject to life as it trains the eye to focus on the details.  I proceeded to work on the colors and tones, in focus and blurs, perspective and distance, the result more realistic paintings.

Background before  

Background before  

Background after... 

Background after... 

Another example.....bear in mind this is a work in progress..... 

Before..... 

Before..... 

After... 

After... 

From the photos, you get an idea how important the background colors and contrast are in animal portraits.

Bateleur eagle

This portrait took some serious time and patience, the feathers had to be exactly correct with the high, mid and low tone colors to make the pose look realistic. It is not completely finished yet, will then go over some areas to accentuate the effect of the light on the subject.  

Bateleur eagle portrait...almost done 

Bateleur eagle portrait...almost done 

Zebras Portrait "Three's Company"

After about a year, finally got round to continue my Zebra portrait painting. One has to be patient, there are plenty stripes to paint. 

One Done, two to go..... 

One Done, two to go..... 

Sailfish

Thought it would be a good idea to share my latest work, Sailfish jumping out of the ocean chasing Flying fish....this is quite a complex painting....water and reflection takes time to master.... 

Sailfish- work in progress  

Sailfish- work in progress  

Update: working on the forefront ocean waves and splash....will wait a few days to allow the paint to dry. 

Sailfish: almost complete.... 

Sailfish: almost complete.... 

Quetzal painting

Have been busy painting the Resplendent Quetzal, the National bird of Guatemala.  

Quetzal- a lot of work to paint the iridescent feathers

Quetzal- a lot of work to paint the iridescent feathers

Update on Kingfisher painting....

Over the weekend I spent some time working on the Malechite Kingfisher painting, the blocking in stage of the bird is now completed, next after a few days when the oils are dry I will start working on the darker colors and feather details to eventually complete this painting in the near future.

The blocking in stage on the Kingfisher is complete, next I will go over all the feather details and work on the dark colors and hi-lites

The blocking in stage on the Kingfisher is complete, next I will go over all the feather details and work on the dark colors and hi-lites

I thought it appropriate to share some info on this very attractive little (size 14cm) kingfisher which is very common in Southern Africa and the very Northern and Southern tips of Namibia. Malachite kingfishers (Alcedo cristata) depend on a specifically aquatic habitat which could include well-vegetated, slow-flowing rivers and streams, and in particular those waterways that do not have an overhanging tree canopy. Wooded banks with nearby thickets and reed and papyrus marshes are also a favourite. Malachite kingfishers can be found singly or in pairs. If disturbed from their perch, they will fly fast and furious for a short distance low over the water before re-perching not more than 1m over the water on a feature such as a tree stump, wire, rock or vegetation.

Malachite kingfishers will sit motionless so as not to alarm their prospective prey, staring into the water only turning to look in the other direction for food. Their diet consists of small fish, frogs, tadpoles, water beetles, dragonflies, beetles, grasshoppers, prawns and crabs and lizards. They breed along small watercourses with steep banks, a favourite for nesting purposes, lay between 3 and 6 eggs in the low water season of October to May. Incubation periods are around 14 to 16 days. 

Southern African Bird series

Last September I started to paint the first in what I hope to be a series illustrating some of the more colorful and diverse species of Southern African Birds. South Africa ranks as one of the top birding destinations in the world, offering an unbeatable combination and variety of birds. Of the 850 or so species that have been recorded in South Africa, about 725, or 85%, are resident or annual visitors, and about 50 of these are endemic or near- endemic to South Africa, and can only be seen in the country. 
 

Southern Carmine Bee-Eater on Easel compared to the reference photo, the first painting of the series.

Southern Carmine Bee-Eater on Easel compared to the reference photo, the first painting of the series.

Africa's most colorful bird, Lilac Breasted Roller

This is the third time I paint a Lilac Breasted  Roller, for me personally it is quite a challenge because of all the color tones, this is Africa’s most colorful bird.

This bird stands about 14.5 inches tall and, as the name suggests, has pale purple feathers on its chest, with a few tangerine and white feathers mixed in. The face is a very light, nearly yellow that fades into green. The bird's back is a cinnamon brown, and this color extends slightly to the wings. The long, narrow tail is blue-aqua with black streamers, the rest of the body a brilliant aquamarine. When the lilac-breasted roller takes to the skies, you will be able to see its stunning wings. From below, the white wings appear to have been dipped in royal blue ink, check out my previous painting of a lilac breasted roller in flight. From above, the tips are still vividly blue, but there is some teal coloration as well. 

The painting in progress, the base colors have been blocked in partially, below the reference photograph

The painting in progress, the base colors have been blocked in partially, below the reference photograph

Lilac Breasted Roller

Lilac Breasted Roller

Rollers are named after their habit of twirling and somersaulting during courtship. They will dive suddenly during flight when trying to attract mates, and make loud calls while doing so. When it comes time to make a nest for their eggs, these birds will often steal tree nest-holes from woodpeckers and other tree-dwelling birds.

Photograph showing Lilac Breasted Roller in flight, a symphoney of color

Photograph showing Lilac Breasted Roller in flight, a symphoney of color

Lilac-breasted rollers feed primarily on insects such as grasshoppers, but they also snack on small amphibians, lizards and crabs. In fact, lilac-breasted rollers have also been observed to feed on animals fleeing from forest fires, as they are fast fliers. They can be observed near grasslands and other open spaces.

Step by step process to paint a Jaguar portrait

 

Recently as part of improving my technique I decided to paint a Jaguar portrait. Firstly it is important to share with all that I was influenced to replicate the quality of work produced by renown Wildlife Artists, such as the late Simon Combes, now his son Guy Combes, fellow Zimbabwean Craig Bone and English wildlife artist and art instructor Jason Morgan. I have learnt quite a few tips from books and videos published by Jason Morgan, so to them I owe much humble gratitude.

To start drawing the Jaguar onto the canvas from my reference picture I scale a grid onto the canvas to help identify where all the details go and transfer the image as accurate as possible onto the Canvas. For this process I use regular 2B graphite pencil. 

From the Reference Photo I scale the drawing onto the canvas using a grid and then spray the canvas with Artists Fixative to prevent the graphite pencil from smudging and loosing details.

From the Reference Photo I scale the drawing onto the canvas using a grid and then spray the canvas with Artists Fixative to prevent the graphite pencil from smudging and loosing details.

Then I start to paint a tonal under paint with Acrylic paint, this because acrylic dries very quickly. I use a thinned out mix of Raw Sienna with some water, paint over the complete canvas using a one inch flat brush. Before the paint dries out I wipe away the lighter areas of my subject with paper towel, setting the tones to make me aware of where the light is coming from onto the subject and where the lighter colors have to be painted as in the reference photograph.

Here you can see the tonal under paint, the tropical green background has been blocked in, the Jaguar's spots have been painted and I have started to paint the eyes, this to give the subject expression

Here you can see the tonal under paint, the tropical green background has been blocked in, the Jaguar's spots have been painted and I have started to paint the eyes, this to give the subject expression

I start painting in the Jaguar’s eyes and nose, so that the subject gets an expression, this motivates me to continue onto the all-important Blocking In stage.  To block in the Jaguar’s under coat of fur, I use a medium flat brush, precision here is not important as this is the primary layer of oil paint. I follow the direction of the fur as I see it in the reference picture. On this blocking in stage it is important to go dark on the colors as the hairs and several layers of fur will be painted over this layer once it is completely dry, to give the image depth. When I am painting "Big Cats", especially those with spots, be aware of the spots, so I usually go over the spots again with a mixture of Black, Burnt Umber and some Ultra Marine Blue. I never use pure Black, it will make everything look flat and artificial.

Here I have basically worked on the Cat's expression and completed the Blocking In stage. I have also gone over the spots again, and it won't be the last time either

Here I have basically worked on the Cat's expression and completed the Blocking In stage. I have also gone over the spots again, and it won't be the last time either

Next I will start painting in the fur, hair by hair paying attention to the light and dark areas. You have to be patient; painting wildlife is all about expression and getting your subject to look as natural as possible. When I paint a Lion portrait I always include the scars, the ragged hair, after all it has to look wild, not like it has just left the grooming parlor. Because I am using regular oils, I will have to wait several days to a week or so before I carry on. If I use Alkyd Oils I would let it dry overnight and carry on the next day, but as of now I cannot get my hands on Alkyd Oil paints.

This post will be continued at a later stage.

After some time working on other paintings I have continued to work on the Jaguar. Firstly I use a number 4 round brush and load it with slightly thinned paint, whilst loading it I form a chisel edge on the brush, allows me to paint the individual hairs that make up the fur. This can also be done using a rigger brush. Always paying attention to the reference photo I paint the fur in the direction of the growth, just like in real life, after one or two layers of fur the big cat will start to come alive. Paint the fur unevenly so as to make the animal look wild, pay attention to detail.

The first layer of fur, a few more layers will then give more depth and realism. 

The first layer of fur, a few more layers will then give more depth and realism. 

Malachite Kingfisher painting starting to take shape....

I started on this painting a few days back, as I am painting in normal oil paint, I have to wait a few days to let the layers dry and move to the next stage. Last Year arround February I had previously drawn the same picture on normal paper with coloring pencils, for some reason I think that this excellent photograph by Willem Kruger deserves to be portrayed on canvas in oil.....so off to work I went.

This photo shows the painting in progress against the refernce photo

This photo shows the painting in progress against the refernce photo

There is still alot of work on this painting, and as the next photo shows progress can be slow...

Below the same picture drawn on paper using generic coloring pencils completed last year....

Competed in February 2014 using coloring pencils on drawing paper, refernce photo by Willem Kruger.

Competed in February 2014 using coloring pencils on drawing paper, refernce photo by Willem Kruger.