Pastel Painting: Young lyrebirds


In Wollemi National Park we woke up every morning to the sound of male lyrebirds performing their repertoires on the other side of the dam.

On our side of the water there was a pair of somewhat elusive young males that hung around together and were sometimes spotted on the paths and in the undergrowth within the campground.

I had this photo of them (right) with a beautiful little patch of ferny undergrowth in the background. The photo was taken at Dunn's Swamp in Wollemi National Park during our camping trip there in February/March of this year. (You will find more photos from our stay at Dunn's Swamp, here, if you wish.)

Could I turn it into a painting? As you can see it has a great big out-of-focus tree trunk on the left hand side of the picture which would need to be cut out.

Cropping out the tree trunk, and looking at the rest of the scene, the lyrebird was in the wrong place and seemed to have a tree growing out of its back. Some things would still need to be changed!

Fortunately I had clicked away madly while the lyrebirds were in sight, and had a few photos to choose from in making adjustments.

Amongst them was this photo (on the right) which showed both lyrebirds together, further to the right, than the specimens in the original photo, so it was a reasonably simple matter to lift them out in Photoshop, and transpose them into the other one, to make a better picture.

I still had to remove the lyrebird that was in the wrong place, by transposing the appropriate section from yet another photo!

After making the adjustments and cropping again, the photo on the left shows the final scene that I had set up for painting.

In this composition the ferny patch in the centre and the shadow area in the foreground, both seemed to lead across to the lyrebirds, making them the main subject.

The photo still had a couple of problems, though, that I would need to compensate for in my painting. The lyrebird on the right had its face hidden from view, and I would need to lessen the emphasis of that dark tree trunk that was in the centre of the picture.

The original scene was bright and airy and I wanted to preserve this feeling in my painting, so I selected a pale creamy coloured textured pastel paper to work on.

I sketched in the position of the lyrebirds and began marking in some of the shadow areas.

I added in warm colour to the tree trunks and the main ferny areas..........

......... and began adding the main colour patches to the birds.

The larger image below shows the progress on the birds more clearly.

I have begun adding greens into the background and have built up a little more colour on the tree trunks. Note also that I have judiciously smudged the colour in some areas to create a variety of textures in the background.

Here I have added dark blue colours into the background and begun refining the birds. I have also begun working on the bit of foreground in front of the birds and started to build up the structure of the little ferny patch behind them.

Adding highlights to the ferns.

Here I have worked on the birds and the bit of tangle beside them. Note that I have freed the right hand bird from the tangle, so that you can see its head. Also, I have omitted the distracting stick that was sitting horizontally above the birds in the source image.

In the image below I have worked mainly on the foreground and background around the birds.

I thought the painting as shown above, was just about finished, but Laura pointed out that the ferns lined up in such a way that they appeared to create a line that sloped downwards across the picture from left to right. So I pulled a few vertical lines of foliage across it to lessen this effect.

The finished painting is shown below.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts