2013 LucyJ SnakeHawkI painted this quickly on my supper break from work at the computer lab.

Whenever I plan to do a more important painting, this one being a custom piece, I need to do several sketches. None of them are up to the level where I am aiming, but each of them teaches me something important about the painting.

A few days ago I posted my joy at receiving new art supplies and I was truly happy (see video here on Who’s Dick?) . With only a few sheets of good paper left, I was cutting the next to last one up into small cards to ration out for my daily painting habit. In school I had gotten out of the habit of painting every day – it was not a pretty sight.

This was a color test, and a paper test, using my new supplies. This is what I learned from this 15 minute sketch.

1. It takes a little experimenting with new paints to see how easily they blend, get used to this brand’s particular shade of yellow or sienna, know just how much water will be needed to lighten it to the desired shade. This Payne’s Grey is thicker and darker than my previous tube.

2. This paper is nice and thick, with a pleasant texture, but less sizing than my old paper. It does not warp easily, the roughness plays well with the drybrush, but it won’t like too much color lifting or scrubbing.

3. Painting quickly revealed some of my symbolism habits relating to the subject. Sometimes I paint from my general impression of the subject instead of carefully observing. If I am trying to create a new environment for the subject, I may need to change its position too, so I will do a couple small studies in different positions with different expression (see examples here on Black & White Prep and Portrait). After a few sketches, the proportions will be better, and I will be more used to making changes to affect the attitude and message of the piece.

4. My objective observer wanted to know what the bird was reaching toward, and whether it was a snake hawk or a young eagle. I need to decide if I want to be more minimal or more defined in the planning of the picture.

Stay posted for updates on this project.

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