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Pastel painting: Pipit on the beach


I was going through my photos looking for a stilt to paint, or maybe a scarlet honeyeater, and came across this one of a pipit (Anthus richardi) on the beach at Bowling Green Bay, south of Townsville. It appealed to me immediately.

This bird had played hide and seek with us, trying to stay out of sight behind bushes, and so had been elusive and difficult to photograph.

In the photo, I particularly liked the way the late afternoon light danced across the bedraggled dead grasses hanging over the rocks, to hit the bird which was standing like an exclamation mark at the end.

So I cropped it to emphasize this feature, and drew up a grid over the top of it. I made smaller squares on the grid over the top of the bird, to help me gets its dimensions right.

I chose a mid-grey paper in 50 x 70 cm paper and, using the grid that I had drawn up on greaseproof paper for the whipbird painting, put dots on the pastel paper at the corners where the lines intersected.

I then lightly sketched the shape of the bird and some of the grass stems, and used blue pastel to show the position of the darkest shadows.

I put in a bit of dark colour in the backgound and indicated the shadows under the rocks. Also I began to put colour on the bird and have started to go over the grass stems with a pale beige.

Here I have worked on the background with paler, greyish colours to send it backwards, and have put more detail in the rocks, and a bit of warm colour on the body of the bird.

And here I have almost completed the bird and added in most of the grass stems.

I used mainly Art Spectrum and Schmincke greys, grey-blues and beige colours in this painting. The bright yellow and pinky orange are Sennelier pastels.

The finished painting is below. I hope you like it.

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