I've been back in the studio painting- nests of course. I'm not sure how long I'll be painting these but for now I'm going with the proverbial flow. As long as they keep hold of my heart and mind then I'll keep on making them.
Recently, one of my students was wondering what my process is for painting the nests so I thought I'd post a few work in progress pics.
Here you can see I've already got the gold in place. Before I can apply the gold I prep the canvas. The first thing I do is apply a layer of Super Heavy Gesso with a large palette knife. You can see the texture on the canvas surface. That layer of gesso is pretty thick so I leave it to dry over night. When it's dry I coat the canvas with a primary red acrylic.
Then I use a white charcoal or pastel pencil to sketch in the outline of the nest. This gives me a map for the adhesive size used to adhere the gold. Once the size is tacky - that takes approximately 15-30 minutes - I place the gold leaf, brush off the excess, and this is what the canvas looks like.
In this next step I've coated the rest of the canvas, all areas without gold, with burnt umber. After the paint is dry I use the same pastel pencil to sketch in the main elements. I mark the edge of the nest opening, the largest pieces of leaves, plastic, or other bits of debris the birds used for building.
I paint those large pieces in first and then use a liner brush to start building the layers of grasses and twigs that are woven together. When I build these layers I work from dark to light starting with a burnt sienna\burnt umber mix and adding other colors as I get lighter and lighter.
acrylic and gold leaf
The final strokes are the lightest ones, the ones that make the painting pop and give it depth. I think the toughest challenge about these paintings is photographing them because of the gold leaf. In every photo the gold looks a little different. It all depends on the angle, the time of day, the light- if it's overcast or sunny outside. You can see the difference even in these progress pictures. At the same time, that's my favorite thing about these paintings- the way the painting changes with the light. It's not a trick but sure is a treat! LOL, I know..... way too corny but couldn't help myself.
Happy Halloween ya'll!