Our tutor arrived almost last this week - very unusual for her, and looked somewhat surprised that we were all ready for her. Last weekend my wife and I visited Cotton Manor - just in time to see the bluebell wood in all it's spring glory, and I took quite a lot of photos, some of which I had printed out on A4 as possible subject matter. In the end I chose a photo of ducks, which we'd met along the way.
I'd just drawn the first outline of the main duck when Miss came along to inspect my work. She noticed some proportions weren't correct and pointed out my mistakes. But hang on a minute, these were my initial lines and I knew some were not right at this stage! She looked at me and made sure she had my attention before explaining how to get things in the right place by say, how many times the head would fit downwards into the body and how long the beak was in the photo compared to the head. You see, it's all a case of how large one part of the subject is in relation to another, and how some features line up vertically and horizontally. Then I got told to "Sharpen" my pencil. I felt put in my place, but didn't mind at all because our tutor knows how much I like doing potraits, and how her instruction will help me get a good likeness when I need it.
It took a long time for me to get the main duck right, and I had to result to squaring up in parts around the head. The smaller ducks in the background were there in the photo, only higher and I thought they would look good included in the painting. As I worked on the drawing, Miss walked by some distance away but glanced in my direction and booming across the room came the words "Sharpen your pencil Frank"! That was so funny!
By the time the sketch was finished there wasn't a lot of time for paint, and I only got some shadows on the feathers and the orange beak done. Back at home the next day, I worked some more on the painting, finishing the main duck, then working on the others in the picture. It looked OK at this stage, but when I added the background, the main duck merged into it and it was clear that I added a little too much shading to the duck and made the background too similar a colour. To rectify this, I used ink to bring detail to the duck and a lot of the foreground, which gave more form to the bird. In the original photo, the gravel he is standing on is very dark and makes him stand out really well. This makes me think that if I applied a lot darker wash using another colour, he may stand out better than he does at present. But then the whole thing is likely to look overworked, and I am already past my comfortable time limit on this painting, so have decided to leave it for now.