“How to Paint…Dark and Light?”

Posted by on May 6, 2013 in How To Paint | No Comments
“How to Paint…Dark and Light?”

I have three paintings I painted specifically for the Torrit Grey painting Contest. Two of the paintings, “Torrit the Tiger” and “Ghost in Torrit Woods” are very popular and get a lot of attention. “New Prince of the Jungle” may not be as well known as the other two but I was trying to accomplish the opposite light-dark quality in this painting than I did with the other two. I picked a dark subject in the gorilla instead of the white tiger or the white owl. I specifically used a light background instead of the dark like the other two. I changed the focus of this painting from the light, (tiger, owl), to the dark with the gorilla.

One of my very favorite subjects to paint is the majestic gorilla.  I  love putting in the eyes first to have my subject looking at me from the start of the painting.  These guys also have long fur and I can use my favorite techniques for painting the fur.

eyes only 2Gorilla Progress 1 – Wildlife Art by: Laura Curtin

The block in of the really white leaves in the background was my attempt to have a dramatic difference between the light and shadows in the jungle.  I want the gorilla to blend in with the background yet be dominate in the painting.  I really like the first block in of the painting, the leaves and trees and gorilla were all clear and uncluttered.

I have so much fun putting on this first coat of paint. I use my larger brushes to do the first block ins. If you are following my advice, let yourself go, use a big brush, mix up a lot of paint and get to it.  I kept thinking light in the background dark in the foreground.  As I painted, my heart raced, adrenaline rushed, can I do this?  Every single time when the painting is moving forward I always wonder if I can sustain the momentum, paint my vision.  The answer is always in the air.

gorilla 8Gorilla Progress 2 – Wildlife Art by: Laura Curtin

I  love watching the animal get it’s face, body and fur.  The Gorilla is so human looking and has such soulful eyes. I always get attached to my primate paintings. I’m including a close up here of this beautiful jungle prince.  Lights and darks back and forth. Even without conventional color you can accomplish just as much 3d effect with black, white and gray.

Wildlife Art by: Laura CurtinGorilla Progress 3 – Wildlife Art by: Laura Curtin

Getting into the fine detail of the painting is what I did at this point. I’m a over-thinker. I have a lot of dialog going on in my head most of the time. Maybe a few classes in meditation would be of benefit to me. When I get down to details in my paintings, I turn the tv to some mystery crime drama or court show to keep that part of my brain busy so I can be creative. I don’t think I’m alone in this process. I would love to hear how other artists cope with this busy brain issue. Maybe there is a way to harness the talkative brain into the creative brain.

I purchase reference materials from online photo shops. I also have an extensive picture book library of jungles, praires, forests and on and on. When I’m sitting at my easel painting I have a lap full of photos and books that I’m using to put together that picture in my head. I wish I could paint like the photos in my books, I wish my paintings would look more real. What I end up with though, is, real places with real animals in a situation that is completely of my making.

I like the way this painting took shape and ultimately came out. Looking at sales and popularity my experiment with a dark subject did not equal the impact of having the main subject matter as a light subject.

Wildlife Art by: Laura Curtin“New Prince of the Jungle” – Wildlife Art by: Laura Curtin

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I am helping to support a great animal rescue center with portions of my sales from my Etsy sales site. I am giving 10% of all sales to this fantastic animal rescue center.
Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary
http://foreverwildexotics.org/

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