Wildlife Art by: Laura Curtin

“How to Paint… Rocks?”

How To Paint Rocks doesn’t sound like wildlife art but animal habitats are full of rocks and plants. I’ve painted a lot of rocks in my art career and not all of them looked like rocks to me. I’ve painted baked potato rocks, rocks that look like I dropped my ice cream cone on the ground, flat shapeless rocks and so on. You get the point.

When I decided to paint this desert floor view of the tortoise I knew I would be painting a lot of rocks. I love the colors in the desert landscape, oranges and lavenders, blues and beige, beautiful stark color glowing with heat and reflection of the surrounding landscape. The first coat of paint for the desert floor is all the random colors I can see and imagine. I used a few different sizes of my fantastic Escoda bright brushes and kept the colors clean by changing areas with one color, starting with a new color and spreading that color around the ground. I used lavender and blue under the tortoise in the shadow areas keeping my brushstrokes larger closer to the front of the canvas for the larger rocks.

Wildlife Art by: Laura CurtinDesert Tortoise Progress 1 – Wildlife Art by: Laura Curtin

I started picking out individual rocks with a dark color defining the shapes and setting in shadows to develop further later as I went along. I used a slightly smaller size 6 brush to paint all the rocks all over again. Fortunately I was having problems at home and sitting out in my painting room painting rock after rock without having to think too much was very therapeutic. I’m not suggesting planning a personal problem before painting a 1000 rocks but be prepared to keep your mind creative and engaged.

After painting and painting rocks I realized that something was wrong with them. All of them were laying there touching but not piled on top of each other. Each of the rocks are so nice all side by side. Time to paint them again and pile some on top of the others. This was one of those learning experiences that I rather enjoyed even though I made myself more work.

desert rocks 4Desert Tortoise Progress 2 – Wildlife Art by: Laura Curtin

Today I started a new painting and I realized that every time I start painting I wonder if I can actually paint. Is that unusual? I know I can paint that’s not the real question I’m asking myself. It’s usually something like, “Why did I pick something with so many Rocks?” “Why did I pick Eagles with all these feathers?” “Spots!!! again?” I think the last painting I didn’t ask myself any of those questions was “Cougar Ledge” I loved paining that painting. I know the complication of all the rocks or feathers, helps me build my ability to paint and I feel accomplished when the painting is finished.

Back to rocks. I planned beautiful desert flowers into the painting to offset the craggy tortoise face.  I got these flowers blocked in and thought there might be a bit too many plants.  I loved the rocks and didn’t want to cover everything up.  Just remember when you change your mind about something you’ve already painted you can’t just erase them and the rocks will still be there underneath.  I had to start over blocking in the rocks, defining them, stacking them and making them blend in.

desert 6 copyDesert Tortoise Progress 3 – Wildlife Art by: Laura Curtin

My advice with rocks is change it up. Don’t use the same brush for all the rocks, change colors and move around the canvas.  Paint different places with different colors and brushes.  Be prepared to paint the same thing over and over.  Have Fun!

desert rocks 7Desert Tortoise Comnplete 4 – Wildlife Art by: Laura Curtin

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