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Lyn EllisonLyn Ellison   AFC Lyn Ellison
Australian, African Wildlife, Owls Worldwide
 


My creative process always begins with an idea that was insipired by something I have experienced, either from a magical landscape or a wildlife subject. Sometimes it is the landscape that impresses me first and I work some wildlife into it. Other times the wildlife subject inspires me and I settle a landscape setting around it. On rare perfect,uplifting moments the whole picture is there in front of me and all I have to do is breathe it all in!
Once the inspiration is there I need to settle down and organize myself so I don't fly off in all directions. Preliminary sketches need to be done to work out compositional problems and reference material needs to be organized. Reference material is very helpful for lighting, tone and structure.You need to be confident that your wildlife subject is anatomically correct and plenty of reference material will help here.


Sometimes the wildlife subject needs to be sketched a number of times before I feel confident enough to go ahead with the final painting. I then sketch the subject the correct size for the painting on paper, cut it out and place it on the canvas. If I have a number of subjects, this is the time to make sure the composition is right, by re-arranging the cut out pieces until they look right.TIME SPENT AT THIS STAGE CAN SAVE LOTS OF HEARTACHE LATER!


After I have roughly sketched in the whole underlying picture I decide what the overall mood will be and cover the sketch with a thin wash of a suitable colour.In the case of Double Trouble this was a very light purple/blue.I am now using acrylic at this stage instead of oil to avoid the smell of the thinners.
Once this is dry I can start blocking in the basic shapes and the tonal values with oil paint. I like to use alkids as they dry faster.I work over the whole painting so I can see if everthing is balanced.


From then on its a matter of building up the painting all over, working from background, to subject, to foreground at all times so that the painting has a cohesive feel to it and the wildlife subjects do not look like they are 'cut out'. If there are a number of subjects in the picture, these need to 'belong' together in colour, tone and scale with the correct light source cast on all of them. Sometimes one of the subjects will have the main focus and this one will then receive more attention and detail than the others.This is one way of taking the eye on a journey through the painting. Another way to create a journey is through action within the painting or perceived action outside the painting.


When all the hard work is done and that 'troublesome corner'is finally fixed, its time to have a good hard look at the painting to see if it really works the way I had planned it. Usually the painting needs a glaze over the whole canvas to make everything blend together, sometimes a warm glaze, sometimes cool.Finally small details can be picked out again with some thick paint, often white, to catch the light.
Last of all with a sigh of relief I can sign it!

 
 
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Member of the Artists for Conservation Foundation www.natureartists.com.