I've been interested in doing a simple step-by-step guide into my painting method for a while now. I get a lot of questions into the materials and process the I use, and I love seeing (and showing) all of the work that goes into a painting. So here it is: A simple step-by-step tutorial on how I paint. I'm going to be painting a red wolf, which is kinda a nice change for me.
I paint with gouache, which is a opaque watercolor. It allows for vibrant, rich colors that finish to a matte finish and intense detail. You can also paint on almost anything with gouache. My favorites are wood, paper and aquabord, which is a special type of panel made especially for water mediums. They are also made by a local Austin company, Ampersand. They have a variety of panels for whatever your purpose and medium. For this, I chose to use aquabord.
This is the first step that I do. Color is a very interesting thing. By playing with warms and cools, you can really achieve depth in your painting. By doing a 'warm' wash before I lay the 'cool' blue will make the background color 'pop' more, and also create an interesting feeling of depth. I'm painting a red wolf, and so the background needed to be 'cool.' Neutral colors will read 'warm' on a 'cool' background, and visa versa.
Next I lightly sketch out the figure in pencil and start figuring out what will be the darks and the lights. I usually figure out the darkest parts first, and then work up to painting the lighter areas.
One of the things that I found out that I love about painting wolves is that their fur varies in color. Red wolves have ginger, grey and white fur on different areas of their body. I used warmer colors where I knew that I wanted redder fur, and more neutral colors where I wanted the grey fur.
This is where I start painting the fur (sorry for the weird angle and shadow.) I use a pretty small brush, and just follow the direction of the hair. I like to use a lighter color so that you can see the different strokes.
Ok, here's a better angle! I do an off white next, and start filling in the lighter fur areas. I also start lightly laying it over the darker areas as well. Using thin layers of paint allows for the previous layers to show through. The white paint then becomes light grey, light brown or tan depending on the colors beneath it. Layering white on top of the blueish background makes it look as if the shadows have already been painted.
This has the off-white fur painted all over now, using thinner and lighter pressure where the darker parts are. I also went ahead and started painting the eyes and added some more details in the mouth and ears.
Now it's about adding the darkest darks and the lightest lights. I added more depth to the eyes, and lightly layered darker paint to create shadows. This step is really about just taking the time and making sure that the shadows are the correct shade and hue.
And that is basically that. I wanted to keep the background simple to allow all of the detail in the wolf to stand out. To see it full size you can go over here.
Thank you! Let me know if you have any questions that I can answer regarding my process.
Something very exciting, and just in time for the winter holidays, is that I'm now offering giclée prints. My first one is of Unify, shown of the left. They were done with a local Austin company, Skyline, and are super beautiful! They are 12"x15 and printed on fine art paper.
If you are interested in buying a print, you can order one though Paypal now. Please message me at klcjenkinon@gmail to receive an invoice. I have only a few of these left, so if you want your's before the holidays, now is the time to order!
Also in the near future, I will be doing prints of other works, so if there is a painting that you would love to own as a print, please let me know and I will try and make that happen. And then, in the new year of 2014, I will for the first time ever be taking commissions. If there is something that you want painted by me, be it wolves, foxes, bears, mice, dogs, cats, people, places, or anything else, I will do so at only $1 an inch + additional cost of materials.
A big thank you to everyone for all of the love and support. Happy Holidays!
I pretty much love anything Isabella Rossellini does. She is perhaps best known as a model, and for her role in Blue Velvet, but she has recently taken to some peformance art where she acts out the more intimite lives of animals. I stumbled upon a book/video series called Green Porno a couple of years ago at a local artsy bookstore, then called Domy Books, now called Farwell Books. Isabella Rossellini is dressed up in these amazing theatrical animal costumes, and she acts out the somewhat bizarre courtship and mating habits of different animals in a scientific but humorous way. Here's one of my favorites.
She also teamed up with Burt's Bees and did some videos about just how awesome bees really are. There are three videos in total (although she also does a different and interesting bee video in her Green Porno series.) All of them are highly educational, and also touch on ways that everyone can do to help the bees.
And one more.
Recently, I was listening to an interview where she was talking about how altruism is not just a human trait, but one that can be found in lots of animals, mostly with mothers and their young. This had lead Isabella to her next and latest series, Mamas. There's only a couple of videos so far, one a spider who is consumbed by her babies, and another where she is a hampster that consumes her babies.
I won't show any more videos, leaving you and youtube to do the rest, but every last one is amazing and fun to watch. The lives of animals are fascinating, and the way Isabella Rossellini playfully presents them is a joy to watch. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do.
A lot of my art involves animals. Although I do love animals, this is not the only reason why I paint them, but rather because I feel that we are missing valuable lessons that other species have to teach.
One of the first questions I had as a child was just what it was that made animals different from humans. I had a cat named Byron who would follow me everywhere. Like many owners and their pets, he and I came to understand each other without words.
One of the more frustrating things about human relationships is that we limit our communication to just words a lot of the time. And the problem with words is that there will forever be the gap between sound and meaning. Not to dismiss language, it is elusive, fluid, and at the same point precise in action. Humans think in language, while animals, do not. This has for a long time, gave humans license to believe that animals must therefore not think, as we can no longer imagine wordless thoughts.
The more we study animals, however the more we come to see that there might be very little separation between us and them. The things that we hold as gifts from the gods, we are starting to see in the animal kingdom. For example, octopi can make and use tools, open jars and learn through observation. Rats feel empathy, elephants console, squirrels remember, and many species different mourn.
Most people have seen this video, or at least know of Koko the gorilla, but it's a good one nonetheless.
I have heard before that children dreams feature mostly animals. If you look at popular children's books and movies, it often seems like the more animals the better. Even in narratives staring humans, the protagonist best friend is often an animal, and the favorite of younger audiences. Stories that star animals are even better, and they often allow for far more complex story lines to be comprehendible to younger viewers. It allows for lions to act out Hamlet, deers to experience profound grief, dogs to become martyrs, fall in love and illustrate class struggles. Narratives that if given to a human character would make it not relatable, scary, or boring.
Stuffed animals are loved by both boys and girls. Some police and firemen have started carrying teddy bears around because of their proven benefit to help children calm down after traumatic events. I believe that animals' ability to wordlessly understand can be a great relief to children when they are still lacking in the ability to communicate.
But I believe that our relationship is quickly changing with animals, and that is what I suppose is what I am most currently interested in pursuing. Pets are becoming more and more a part of the family, while farm animals are becoming just a commodity and wildlife is becoming either a myth or a sport, depending on how endangered. It is distancing our world from theirs, because of this, we are starting to see animals loose their hold on the human psyche. We are starting to see more and more anthropomorphized inanimate objects replace animals in children's films, such as Toys, WALL-E, Cars, and most recently, Planes. I wonder what effect this will have in the future, could we learn to love machines and robots as much as we do cats and dogs?
Looking at pictures of various robot dogs, I don't think so. At least, not as they are currently. Although I won't mention it too much here, (I'm going to save it for a future post) it is worth bringing to mind Harlow and his monkeys, and how being able to touch, and be touched is an important part of bonding for all different kinds of species.
Humans don't bond with only humans, and animals have been seen in several different interspecies friendships. I think that it is time that human stop seeing the world as a polarity of humans and animals, man and critter, person and nonperson and start seeing it as a world full of animals, where we are just one species among many.
Kelsey Jenkinson is a 27 year old artist in currently living and working in Austin, Texas.