Friday, February 6, 2015

You couldn't do this with watercolor

This week I worked on an acrylic painting of a Barn Swallow.  Here is the photo I took last summer that I used as a reference:

It's a lovely photo, and probably would make a lovely painting if I could depict foliage with anything approaching competence.  Somehow, no matter how I mixed up the paints, every green came out too dark, and I utterly failed to achieve the dark-light contrasts that make the bird and foreground foliage stand out.  And so I wound up spending two days creating a complete mess:

Too dark, no distinction between background and foreground, unrealistic foliage, sloppy -- well, I could go on, but you get the idea.  The one thing I did like was the bird!

I decided the painting was worth salvaging for the bird.  But how?  I popped the photo of the painting into Photoshop and played around with the foliage, and just made it worse.  Then I had a lightbulb moment -- you don't often see swallows like this, against dense grass.  They are more commonly seen perched on tree branches in open areas, or on telephone wires.  What if I just painted out the background entirely and replaced it with nothing but sky?

That is exactly what I did, and while it may be a whole lot plainer, at least it's not quite so messy!

As the post title says, I am very glad I didn't paint this with watercolor.    Whew.

1 comment:

  1. That turned out nicely but I sure like that photo - wow! Gorgeous birdie.