I start by preparing the canvas with two coats of acrylic backing paint. For this painting I have used straw colour, as it will help to bring out the light filtering through the rainforest foliage. I then sketch the main subject which is a photo of a Cassowary and chicks which I have taken at Mission Beach Far North Queensland.
I then block in the leaves and the rainforest trees, using Green Black for the leaves and Payne’s Grey for the rainforest trees and branches. I use a No. 8 flat brush for the trees and branches and No 4 round for the leaves. I then start blocking in the main subject, the Cassowary. I use Burnt Umber for the cone on the Cassowary’s head and Phthalo Blue for the bird’s head. I then block in the body using Payne’s Grey and Carbon Black. I like to take my time blocking in to be as accurate as possible, as it saves time later. I then have a good look, making sure I have the balance, weight and perspective as accurate as possible.
I then proceed to painting the background, in this case the light filtering through the rainforest. I start with Red Gold, Cadmium Yellow Light and then to lighten it more I use Naples Yellow and Titanium White.
I then paint in the leaves using Permanent Sap Green and Permanent Green Light and Phthalo Green. I then use Naples Yellow. To give some of the leaves an older look, I dab on Burnt Umber and then a little Naples Yellow, placing a touch of Burnt Sienna here and there.
I paint the rainforest trees using Payne’s Grey and Burnt Umber for the darker side and Naples Yellow and White for the lighter side. I then place in the shadows using Payne’s Grey thinned with retarder medium.
I now proceed to paint in the main subjects, the Cassowary and the chicks. I use Payne’s Grey, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna and Naples Yellow and White for the cone on the Cassowary’s head. For the head and neck I use Phthalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, White and Cadmium Scarlet. The beak is painted with Payne’s Grey and White. The body and feet are Payne’s Grey White and Burnt Umber. The chicks are painted with Naples Yellow, Red Gold, Raw Sienna, White, and Payne’s Grey/Black.
The foreground is coloured with Naples Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Light, and Red Gold. Dioxazine Purple is used for the shadows and the darker areas use Purple, Payne’s Grey, Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber.
ARTIST’S HINTS AND TIPS
- One thing I have learnt is to determine which way the light is coming from and place the shadows accordingly. Shadows can make a painting; determine which way the light is coming from.
- Always use a good brush when painting detail. If you try to use a worn brush, you will get very frustrated.
- Good quality canvas professionally prepared on stretcher bars
- My favourite brushes are Flat Brushes 4 to 12, sable and synthetic sable
- Cheaper/old brushes for scrubbing in colour (scumbling techniques)
- I use sable liner brushes for small detail sizes 10-0 to 4
- Australian made Atelier interactive acrylic: Titanium White, Dioxazine Purple, Naples Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Cadmium Yellow light and medium, Red Gold, Phthalo Blue, French Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Scarlet, Raw Umber, Carbon Black, Payne’s Grey, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Permanent Green Light, Permanent Sap Green, Phthalo Green