Pastel Painting: Leaden flycatcher


One thing that can be said about our Australian bush is that it is almost never tidy and I like my paintings to reflect this messiness. So I am inclined to steer clear of nice neat scenes.

I would be happy if people could smell the eucalyptus and feel the hot hot sun when they look at my paintings. I want my birds to look alive, as if, a second later they might fly away - which is usually precisely what happens (in real life - not in the painting)!

With my effort to post photos from our last camping trip in my photo gallery I have fallen a bit behind in my painting blog posts and am now a few paintings in arrears! I came back with ten and a half thousand photos from our weeklong trip away, and with interruptions such as a trip to Sydney, and family visiting, it has taken me a month to sort through them all and post them on this website.

Anyway, if you are interested you can find the photos, here (Coolah tops NP), here (Wollemi NP), here (Goulburn River NP), and here (New England NP).

Now, back to painting! Fortunately painting blog posts are quite quick to write.

I was looking for a photo that had the subject in bright sunlight from amongst those I had taken at Basket Swamp earlier this year. (There are more photos from this camping trip here.) This photo of a leaden flycatcher seemed to fill the bill, and had a bit of untidiness in it which, somehow, I found attractive! (Too much tidiness is just boring - isn't it?)

If you look hard you might just be able to see the little flycatcher in the centre!

I cropped it to give the composition shown on the left, and drew up a grid.

I wanted this picture to be bright and so chose a yellow-brown coloured, textured Mi-teintes pastel paper for the background and began working in quick loose strokes to suggest the foliage.

I have cropped this photo a little beyond the edges of the painting so that you can see the grid-marks along the edge. The painting is on my easel and so is not quite vertical, which is why it is tapered towards the top. This is just one of the things that I would normally "fix-up" (by skewing the image in Photoshop) before posting here.

Here, I have added a little more colour, and done a bit of judicious rubbing - not too much! - to create texture in the background and work the paint into the paper in places.

I added blue colour into the shadow areas of the background, and sketched on the subject.

I then added some detail to the bird and began building up paint in the sunlit areas.

Next I added a few more branches in sketchy brown colour.

Beginning to suggest the foreground leaves, with a few bold strokes ........

...... and then I have built up the light areas a little more.

Here I have begun working on the shadow sides of the branches and the main trunk behind the bird.

As you can see from the photos, I am working all over the painting at this stage.

Laura keeps telling me that I should take more photos of the different stages of my paintings. I think this time I have taken plenty - but it can become difficult to determine what progress has been made between photos!

Here, you will see that I have worked on the branches in the centre of the composition.

And here is the finished painting.

#Pastelpainting

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