Pick up a paintbrush and paint a penguin

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been painting an African Penguin skipping on a beach and eating a tasty fish.

The photograph was lent to me by a man at work. I loved the beautiful lights on the water, the pastel colours of the background contrasted with the black and white of the penguin. It was an exciting project and a brand new challenge to me.

The perks of being an Artist over a photographer though, are you can eliminate the tell-tale signs of captivity – the tag on the wing, the half masticated fish. I could also get rid of imperfections like the irregular beak and the red eye.
photo

The result – quite pleasing if you ask me!

You will need:

  • About 50 hours.
  • 50 x 50cm canvas
  • Photograph to copy
  • Large flat paintbrush
  • Range of smaller round paintbrushes
  • Large playmat
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Masking tape
  • Rubber
  • Acrylic paint for sea:
    • White
    • Deep Turquoise
    • Process Cyan
    • Flesh Tint
    • Leaf Green
    • Phthalo Turquoise
    • Cadmium Yellow
  • Sand:
    • Burnt Umber
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Flesh Tint
    • Rich Gold
    • White
    • Mars Black
    • Silver
  • Penguin:
    • Mars Black
    • White
    • Flesh Tint
    • Metallic Blue
    • Silver
    • Burnt Umber
    • Burgandy
  • Fish
    • Silver
    • Leaf Green
    • Burgandy
    • White

A fully stocked artist’s box is not a bad thing – makes all that paint so much more affordable over many years.

  1. Draw up your canvas: see here for a detailed how to guide!
    IMAG0950
  2. Paint in the water: Firstly do a colour wash in a pale blue, then use a large flat brush to paint horizontal strips of colour in varying shades across the area. The photograph was better than life – with gorgeous shades of green, yellow, blue and even peach.  The trick is keeping all the brushstrokes in the same direction and building up layers and layers which takes hours but is worth it!
    water
     
  3. Paint in the sand: Paint a colour wash in flesh tint over the area. They use a variety of rounded brushes to paint speckles of varying browns, silvers, white, sand colours over the entire area. This requires you building up layers, even more so than the sea. You will probably get impatient like I did and have to do this over several sessions. Keep referring back to your photograph to get big stones etc in the right place.Then paint the shadow. The trick here is to create a really watery black paint, with absolutely no white in it to make it creamier. Just neat black with water. Then use a flat brush to wipe this over the area so that all the stones and sand can still be seen through.
    sand
  4. Paint the wings: First do a wash in black. Then use slightly paler purple and bluey shades to create volume and areas of light. On the near wing, use metallic blue and silver paint to give it a wet look, and paint a white strip where the sun bounces off it. Keep all of your brush strokes horizontal to match with the direction of the feathers.
    wings 
  5. Paint the back: If you refer back to the photograph, you will see lots and lots of black feathers standing on end, glistening with oil and sunlight. To capture this, do a black colour wash, then use a little round brush and dab lines of small silver, grey and white dots to act as the tips of every feather. Going further down the back, the feathers lie flatter, so use longer brush strokes, angling them diagonally down the back.
    IMAG0980 
  6. Paint the softer white areas: Use white paint with a teeny bit of black mixed in to create areas of shadow. African Penguins have little grey speckles on their bellies too, so be sure to show this in your painting.
    IMAG0988
  7. Paint the face: Use the same technique as the back to create an area of light and areas of shadow on the face.
    IMAG0990
  8. Paint in the beak: I went off photo for the beak, to find a more visually pleasing one on another African Penguin! Use black, grey and silver, score likes and texture into it, and leave a gap between the top and bottom beak to show the background through. IMAG0995
  9. Paint in the fish! The original photo had a cooked and half cut up piece of fish. I wanted a fresh fish in my picture, so found one on the internet. Use shiny silver and pale greens to capture the beautiful shimmer of the scales.
    IMAG0999IMAG1020
  10. Paint in the feet: Use similar colours to paint the feet, carefully following the photograph to create mottled skin.
    Penguin ARTbyIMI

Ta daaaa

What do you think of my p p p penguin?

And more importantly, what should I name him?

 

 

How naïve to think that Artists have time to paint!

logonewsletter

Sales pitch over.

I have a secret to share…
Preparing for a fayre, holding down a full time job, eating, sleeping AND finding time to paint is nigh on impossible.
If you throw in enjoying the sunshine and doing a bit of exercise then you get to the situation I am in now. That situation does not involve a paint brush.

On the other hand, the business side of my business is flourishing.
On Saturday, I will visit Otters Pool Studio print shop to look at the proofs of three of my paintings! I will then give the nod for 40 limited edition prints in the three designs to be created!

The designs I finally chose are:
IMG_1563kingfisher ARTbyIMIwoodpecker ARTbyIMI

Thank you for your help in choosing them!

I have bought cellophane bags for the prints to go in, I have bought cardboard backing, I have bought struts to keep them rigid and undamaged.
No-one ever tells you how much these little throw-aways add up to!

Ten designs of greeting cards are also rushing their way to me by post right now!
I will then order the ones I like best to sell at the Fayre – monitoring to see which are the most popular designs.

I have created order forms and newsletter sign up forms.
I have arranged to borrow a gazebo, and a three panel display board.
I have written my first newsletter which is raring to be released to the world!

Most excitingly, I have created a to-do list, which is OH SO SATISFYING to tick off another finished item.

Rowledge Village Fayre, I am nearly ready for you……

The list is still long, but this weekend it will take the back burner!
I am going to be a hermit on a Friday evening (shock horror) and paint (SHOCK HORROR!) and watch Grand Designs and other high quality programmes which allow me to imagine my future barn conversion with art studio, swimming pool and photography studio. A girl can dream.

image from chloeulis.com.

Do you feel you have enough time to do the things you love? 

The 30 second sales patter

Sales pitch: My pilot newsletter is written and waiting for more subscribers before it gets sent out into the big bad world. Hopefully it will make the big bad world a prettier more creative world. You wont know unless you subscribe.

In the not too distant future, I will be selecting one of my subscribers at random to win a painting. At the moment, there is a very large chance it will be won by my mother.  You have been duly warned!
logonewsletter2

Anyway, onto today’s subject. The 30 second sales patter.

It has come to my attention from my recent dog-walks-without-dog-but-with-boyfriend-instead that I needed a sales patter when presenting my flyers to a mixture of interested and uninterested dog walkers.

With the first few flyers, the patter was as follows:

blog2
“Hello, I’m a local animal artist…
so I like paint pictures of pets
and dogs and stuff.
Is that something you’d be interested in?”

 

I got a few outright “no”s.
I wasn’t pulling that face. I like to think I was smiling sweetly.
And I wasn’t even on skype… I was right there.

That sales pitch was not the strongest. I  repeated myself three times to these poor dog walkers. Four if you count the “stuff” “I paint animals… pets… dogs…stuff!”

I then confronted them into making an immediate decision “is that something you’d be interested in?”  

“Ahhh no thankyouuuu” they were probably thinking, “I just wanna scoop some poop and get outta here.”

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Between dog walkers, I practised my talk with my apparently business savvy pitching partner. He picked out  my mistakes and didn’t get too bored with hearing the same thing over and over. Maybe because I promised to contribute a whole £1 towards a slice of cake in the tea shop. Generosity.

Image
“Hello I am a local animal artist.
I specialise in painting dogs and birds.
Is that something you’d be interested in?”

 

Dammit it had come out again! An involuntary confrontational language tick!
Boyfriend / Mr Sales “You shouldn’t limit what you specialise in. You can paint all animals!”
Animal artist extraordinaire: “I didn’t mean to… heyy – thanks!” 

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With the last one I had sort of perfected it.

Image
“Hello! I am a local artist.
I specialise in painting pets and wildlife.
You can see my entire portfolio at this link here!”

*shows link*

 

That there is my “look, I painted this bird” face.
But I don’t just specialise in painting birds. I also paint dogs.

Dammit!

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Any ideas on how to improve my sales patter?
Looks like I need further business savvy.

Fayres, newsletters and honest opinions

Hello ART by IMI followers 🙂

Some exciting things have been happening over the past week since beginning my Month of Paint. I would really appreciate some honest feedback from you all to progress my excitement further.

Month of Paint update

So far during my month of paint, I have got this far on a new penguin painting. It is a long way from ready but I am really pleased with how it is progressing. IMAG0960_1[1]

I also had to resort to doodling when away from my paints:

IMAG0963[1]

I have to admit I have somewhat bent the rules in my month of paint.
I changed them to be “spending at least an hour forwarding my business / creating art”

It may be a slight cop out but I don’t care because at last I feel like I am getting somewhere with this venture.

Rowledge Village Fayre

I have booked to have a stall at the Rowledge Village Fayre on the 27th May. This makes me giddy with excitement at the thought of all those people I will get to meet and show off my skills. I am going to see it as an investment, as the amount of money and time I have to put out in preparation will probably far exceed anything I get back this time.

Creating prints

I am getting high quality giclée prints made of three of my paintings, which will be for sale at the fayre and later on my Etsy shop. I need your help choosing which of my paintings to get made into prints. Please will you head over to my gallery and leave me a comment with your thoughts?

I am also getting greeting cards made in a larger number of designs. Again I would really appreciate your help choosing the designs!
woodpecker ARTbyIMIkingfisher ARTbyIMILittle brother ARTbyIMINelson ARTbyIMIErnie ARTbyIMIgoldenpheasantjan13wmpuffin ARTbyIMI

Art society member 

I have become a member of the Farnham Art Society which is very exciting. I can now go along to their meetings, meet other local artists, and hopefully next year will be be promoted to an Exhibiting member. 

.farnham art soc

ART by IMI newsletter

I have just created a monthly newsletter which will have information about my art, local artist events, promotions I am offering and creative input from elsewhere. You can get on the mailing list by clicking the button below!
artbyiminewsletter

Facebook

I am only two likes away from getting 100 followers on Facebook. This is not a big number but it is a small milestone. If you could boost that to 100, you will make me a very happy lady.

And there we are. Lots of exciting news, and lots and lots to prepare. I would love to hear your feedback 🙂

Love, Imi

How to paint a Tawny… Owl by yourself!

As promised, I have been a busy bee over the bank holiday weekend as it is now officially April, my Month of Paint! I finished off painting this little cutie today. His name is Nelson, not after Mandela, but my Grannie, who loved all owls.

If you pay particular attention throughout this guide, you can see me sporting a lovely range of pyjamas. I really am spoiling you.

You will need:

  • About 30 hours!
  • 30cm x 40cm canvas
  • Photograph to copy
  • Large flat paintbrush
  • Range of smaller round paintbrushes
  • Large playmat
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Masking tape
  • Background Acrylic Paint:
    • Cadmium Red
    • Burgandy
  • Owl Acrylic Paint:
    • White
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Burnt Umber
    • Raw Umber
    • Rich Gold
    • Mars Black
    • Hooker Green (small amount)

Canvas Preparation

1. Choose your composition. I cropped my photograph really close so I could focus on the face and feathers and have as little background as possible.

Nelson the tawny photo
I grid up my photographs using microsoft word

2. Mark up your canvas. For a 30 x 40 canvas it is easiest to do 5cm2 squares. If you grid out your photo on a screen, make sure that your scaled dimensions are the same. You will probably have to crop parts of your photo and expand it to fill the space.

3. Draw the outline shape of your subject onto the canvas, following the corresponding squares on your screen. For a more detailed way of doing this, see here.

IMAG0911
I just draw the main lines and markings

Painting the background

1. Mix Cadmium Red and double quantities of Burgundy together with a bit of water. This creates a beautiful rich damson colour. You can add a hint of white to make it more creamy.

2. Paint about four layers of paint over your background area. This will create a solid matte colour. Hold it up to the light. Can you see through it? If so, paint another layer!

IMAG0918
You can overlap the foreground as you will paint over this later.

Painting the owl

At first glance, I thought… how on earth am I going to get everything in the right place?! There is so much going on!
Then I chilled out a bit and decided to take a little bit at a time. What a life lesson.

1. Use masking tape to section off areas to paint: I started from the bottom taking the right hand corner, and gradually worked my way up the canvas in 5cm strips, completing each strip before moving onto the next.
IMAG0920
My art gear of choice was blue striped pyjamas. 

2.  Start with a wash of Burnt Umber mixed with white. This creates a brilliant basis to build up layers of white feathers over the top.
IMAG0921
The more layers you build up, the fluffier it will look

3. Use a cocktail stick to create finer lines and texture in the feathers. Scratch the black bards into place using a near black. Scratch little flicks of white feathers. Some feathers will look softer and fluffier, so use a little paintbrush to achieve this look.

Who would think my pyjamas would be so famous!
Who would think my pyjamas would be so famous!

4. Complete the whole strip using the same techniques, making sure the black and brown bards are painted into the right place. Keep referring back to your photograph – it’s only a little section, you can get everything in the right place easily!

IMAG0924
My photography skills are second to none.

5. Section off the strip above using masking tape. Paint on any bards and darker areas of feathers, blending them into the finished part below.

Be careful to blend the two sections together or you will get a visible line.
Be careful to blend the two sections together or you will get a visible line.

6. Build up layers using streaks of white and tan colours, using your cocktail stick to make texture and individual feathers. The body of the owl is generally paler and greyer, and becomes more coloured and brown towards the face.

IMAG0928
You can see that by taking it section by section, you can get it really accurate.

7. Introduce browns and golds to the upper chest area, below the face. The feathers here are darker, with more golden pigments than the lower belly (all very technical terms!). Make the paint really nice and thick, building up the layers with differing shades. Use your cocktail stick to introduce little speckles to the feathers.  Please keep referring to your photograph to get markings in exactly the right place. I assure you that patience is the only way to get a photo-realistic finish.

IMAG0929IMAG0930
With a little patience, the feathers are not as daunting as they first seem.

8. Begin on the facial disk. Below the face is a white fluffy curve, framing the cute little face. Use really thick white paint here and score shapes into it using a cocktail stick. Then add black, gold and brown mottles to it on top of the thick wet white paint.
IMAG0934
You can see the glints of gold I am starting to work in. 

9. Paint the area surrounding the beak a pale browny grey. Then score thin white and darker grey hairs into it to make it textured and fluffy.
IMAG0936
Use a cocktail stick to create texture.

10. Surround the eyes with tan, white and pale brown paint, using longer curved brush strokes  Continue to build up layer upon layer, with paler colours on the top layers. Paint the brown strip down the middle of the face, and overlap the face hairs to create a semi-symmetrical pattern.
IMAG0940
Keep painting on layer after layer for thick fluffy fur.

11. Paint the eyes deep black, then rim them with pale grey. Create pale grey glints in the eyes to make them look glassy and real. Put grey lines above and below to define the eye socket.
IMAG0942
He just came to life when I painted in the eyes.

12. Paint the disk surrounding the face, using small dabs of tans, browns and black. Again, continue to build up layers, joining the face and the surrounding disk with a darker join. Put dabs of gold into it to make the painting really eye catching.
IMAG0944
At this point, my dad normally starts going “its very clever”

13. Paint the visible wing with a brown wash, then dab several layers in shades of light brown and tan into it.
IMAG0945
Do you see the resemblance?!

14. Mix up a pale yellowy green for the beak. Put shadows in a more grey green and a highlight in a paler colour down the middle of the beak, then paint on little nostrils using near black paint.
IMAG0947
Are they called nostrils??

15. Neaten up any smudges on the background and then SIGN!
Nelson ARTbyIMI
I am a little bit in love with little Nelson 

Let me know what you think, and stay tuned for lots of updates throughout April, my Month of Paint!