Feb. 19th, 2010

Ice Run

Feb. 19th, 2010 04:28 am
argos: (snowy argos)

Ice Run
by ~altivo on deviantART

Ice Run (February 14, 2010)
12x9 in. 80 lb. cold pressed paper
Traditional watercolor

I promised a brief technical discussion of this painting so here it is. (Click thumbnail for larger view.)

The setting is Isle Royale National Park, in Lake Superior. Though I've visited there in person, it was nearly 30 years ago. This is an amalgam of several reference photos and my own recollections. The island is a wilderness of great scenic beauty and has a resident population of wolves and moose that have been studied for decades. Here we see three wolves crossing the ice on Siskiwit Bay in late winter, when the snowpack has melted and refrozen repeatedly at the surface and become crusty and hard.

After a very rough preliminary pencil sketch I applied some masking fluid to the cloud formation, snow on the promontory rocks, and white highlights on the wolves. Then I laid down flat washes for the sky and ice areas and allowed those to dry almost completely before filling in the sky, rocks, and pine forest in the background. The pines were the most interesting, as they began wet into wet (or at least damp) and were detailed as the painting dried which helps to give more depth to the image as the more distant trees are outlined and the foreground trees are laid over the top.

Then I removed the masking from the clouds and snow and added features and detailing to the white areas. This completed the background, which I allowed to dry for a day or so before continuing.

Next the wolves were finished: Each started with generalized color washes, different for the individual wolf as their base colors vary. Fur details and features were added after the base washes had nearly dried, using no. 4 and no. 0 round brushes. Masked areas were unmasked after these details had dried, and final touches could be added to the remaining whites. At this point the entire painting was allowed to dry overnight again.

The final details were the flying snowflakes in the foreground, kicked up by running paws. These were scratched with the corner of a razor blade, making the fine white trails that cross in front of the wolves, particularly the dark leader.

This was a fun painting, but amounts to little more than a sketch of what I wanted. Note to self: Repeat this on a larger scale, taking longer to get more detail into the image.


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