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Theresa EichlerTheresa Ruth Eichler   AFC, BES Theresa Eichler
Wildlife and Wilderness Art
starting point
These days, there is so much technology available, and the pressure to create perfection is so intense that many successful artists rely on technology to create forms of art. I torture myself by being old-school; by believing I have to be able to draw, as well as create good compositions, and I have to understand colours & how to mix them, instead of relying on a vast spectrum of paint tubes. By simply drawing free-hand, I've already set myself apart from so many others, who urge me to use some other means of guaranteeing accuracy. It just takes that much longer to get it right; and jeepers, I might make some mistakes along the way; but one only learns fully by making mistakes, correct? I have learnt so much about animal body structure by examining the patterns of spots, stripes, wrinkles, light and shadows on creatures. Would I know this now by mathematically plotting my image using various forms of grids or by projecting a photograph on a canvas? I'm sure I wouldn't have. I could expand my knowledge of anatomy by studying that and I have, but I am more interested in art, not how to dissect the animals I revere. I don't mean to criticize any other means of creating art. I just know what's right for me. Yes it's much harder and takes vast quantities of time, but it's what I need to do for me.

Come on Down!
This is the first appearance of paint on a board that has been primed with gesso. In this instance gesso is coloured pale yellow ochre. Prior to this, I take the necessary time preparing and perfecting the sketch. This time I only sketched the lion cub, not the background. Then I transfer the sketch using a make-shift light table (a glass shelf on my easel with a desk lamp behind) to charcoal the back of the sketch & apply to the painting surface, carbon paper style. This also allows you to see the mirror image of the sketch and check for anything that needs correcting. It also allows me to place the animal exactly where I think it will make the composition work best, something that is a bit difficult to alter when drawing straight on the canvas or board. I start the paintings with acrylic, because it drys fast with a monochromatic sepia rough painting. I am also drawing the details of the background with the paintbrush.

Come on Down! Sepia stage
I continue to draw in details with the brush and establish values with the paint: light areas, dark areas and middle tone areas. It's hard to have patience at this stage because I love colour and just can't wait to get at it, but it is good to go as far as I can stand in monochrome because the establishment of values is so important. A good underpainting makes a better painting.

Come on Down - Acrylic base
Here I start to apply colour, still using acrylic paint applied very thinly to form the base of the painting. The background is getting some detail that will be toned back to make it recede later on. The trick with a painting at the early stage is to get rid of white or unpainted background as quickly as possible.

Come on Down - start oils now
Now I'm starting the oils, beginning at the top and left hand side of the painting to avoid getting my hands on the wet surface as much as possible. With working full time and painting evenings and weekends, each step represents about a week of work, on average 2 or more hours a day.

Come on Down - oils and details
Still building details. My oil paints are Van Gogh water mixable, which I like because there is no toxic solution or smell to contend with and they share some of the advantages of acrylics in that you can do washes, like with water colours and clean up with just soap & water. They have the richness and blend-ability of oil paint, but dry a little faster, but not too fast, like acrylics sometimes do.

Come on Down! still going....
Working away here. I usually start seeing some things I don't like at this stage, like the little "square" area on the left side, bottom half of the dead tree. It's bothering me. You'll see how I changed it later. The cub requires constant refinement. I also try to push the background back further by washing over it with a very watery mix of purple, green, blue and white. As I go forward I will brighten and crisp up the detail at the front to improve the perspective.

Come on Down! - Almost there
Getting close now. This is the hardest part as I never know when I'm really done. It's usually a matter of not knowing what more I can do with it, since however hard I work at it, a painting never quite meets my expectations or the vision in my head. At the same time, I also scare myself by accomplishing more than I feared I was able to. Hard to explain, unless you're an artist, who usually think remarkably the same way I do.

Come on Down! - done.... I think
OK. Here it is as you see on the paintings section of the web page. Don't be surprised if I go back and change it up again! I'm notorious for doing that, sometimes months, or even years later.

Direct Correspondence to:Theresa Eichler
Theresa Eichler
c/o Wild Lynx Studio
4583 Bonjou Rd.
Kelowna, BC
Canada V1W 1M7
Tel: 7784773004
  Artists for Conservation Group
Email: therlynx@gmail.com
Theresa Eichler Theresa Eichler

All rights reserved. All images and text © Copyright  Theresa Eichler
Member of the Artists for Conservation Foundation www.natureartists.com.