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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Horses in striped pajamas...

A little friend of mine loves those fascinatingly decorated wild horses that roam our African plains. So I painted a pair for her birthday:

Watercolour acrylics

I was copying it from a picture I found online, and only realized halfway through that the image I was referring to was actually a painting!

The original (artist uncertain)

As always, I began with a pencil sketch, outlining the body shapes and even the stripes. If you look more closely at my painting (please don't!) you will actually see some stray graphite lines on the necks where I didn't erase enough. I could have actually spent a lot more time on shading the bodies to enhance the fine hairs and slightly off-white discolouration (they are wild beasts after all!). But this is what happens when you start preparing someone's gift on their very birthday!

The background was pretty fun, watching those gorgeous colours flow on the wet paper and swirl together all of their own accord. This is the joy of watercolours! They have a mind of their own, always an artistic flair to contribute as you paint, I daresay... I heavily wet the background around the zebras (doing so in about four sections, otherwise the water dries out before you reach all corners of the artwork). Then I selected and mixed several pretty colours, and very delicately dabbed them on the wet paper in several areas, maybe giving a flick here and there to aid mingling. The paper must be wet enough to cause the colours to start flowing spontaneously the moment they touch the paper. Tilting the page can also help intermingling. Using the brush to help mingling is not ideal as this tends to result in the colours mixing and forming more solid (and usually brown!) colours.

If you have watercolours, you might have fun just playing around on various sheets of heavy paper, making colours swirl together, and colouring in basic shapes/leaves/flowers, etc. It can be very rewarding, and it's a great way to get started, without expecting yourself to come up with some stupendous masterpiece...