For this painting, I decided to go with a portrait of the wolf instead of the full body, putting him in the shadows of the pine tree and with a woodsy background.
When doing the sketch, I knew I wanted a dark background with the pine tree branches if front of the wolf. So to add a little color I am adding some colorful leaves to the foreground as well.
From the reference photo, I decided to trace the photo onto a sheet of paper and then transferring it onto my masonite, instead of free hand sketching. By doing this I am not losing any detail within the wolf. Sometimes I will use a grid to sketch out my image from a reference photo, using tracing paper and making 1" x 1" squares. Then depending on the size I want the painting to be I will draw the grid lines onto the masonite or canvas accordingly to the proportions. Say I wanted the image to be doubled the size in my reference photo, I would then draw my grid 2" x 2" squares on the masonite. I would do this only for the main subject matter and then free hand the surrounding scenery.
I wanted a warm look to my painting, so I decided to use a Burnt Sienna wash over the entire surface of the masonite. I find by using Burnt Sienna, it gives a little warmth to the paint colors I am using. It will also set the tonal values of the painting and it takes the glare out of the stark white of the gesso. I then take a cloth and wipe off some of the Burnt Sienna where the highlights would be on my subject matter. This is the only time I use an acrylic paint as it drys quickly, thinning it with water to a watery consistency.
Once the wash is completely dry I am ready to apply the base colors within the background and the wolf, blocking in the light and the dark. I am purposely leaving out the base color of the leaves and pine tree branches as I want the fur of the wolf to show through them. Since I will be painting a 2nd. and possibly a 3rd. layer of fur, I am going to wait on painting the foreground until the layers are completed.
Now that my colors of the background and the wolf are blocked in I am ready to paint the 2nd. coat of fur.
In my next post I will show the 2nd. and 3rd. layer of fur and foreground colors, so check back soon. Also, please feel free to leave any comments or questions!
The Wildlife and Nature Art of Johanna Lerwick. A blog about painting wildlife and nature. Topics including painting in progress, oil paintings, art prints, art licensing and painting techniques.