Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Turtles by Twos

Sketch and partial underpainting on cradled birch panel ©St.Hilaire Nelson

Moving along in my series of Two by Two's for my show at the Thrasher Horne Center for the Arts next year. I wanted to share with you the step by step of my pair of Painted Box Turtles. In sketching these beauties out, I knew I was going to be in trouble with all those spots...

Underpainting on cradled birch panel of male and female ©St.Hilaire Nelson

I utilized a lot of spattering with my fluid acrylics for the top background of these pieces (working on birch panel primed with clear gesso), knowing that I would leave that area as painted in the finished piece. I used my two favorite fluid acrylic colors: Gold Metallic and Quinacridone/Nickel Azo Gold. After a successful splattered, dripped and very messy background painting, I blocked in the turtles with color and value in mind. I then painted the foreground in a loose style that I thought I might like to leave showing through as paint, with only the turtles being collage.

Male (left) and Female Turtles complete ©St.Hilaire Nelson

I must tell you that tearing all those yellow spots was agonizingly slow going and I'm not ever doing another turtle again. SO, get these in a giclée print from me or purchase the originals (at the Noah's Ark Exhibition) while you can!

I went back and forth over whether or not I had added TOO MUCH COLOR which is a question I rarely ask myself. Maybe it was the fact that I was seeing spots. I bounced the .jpgs off my friend and Dog-A-Day painter Kim Santini for her opinion. Kim infuses tons of color into her paintings, especially in the blacks. I totally value her opinion. AND much of the yellow spots were created from torn bits of her acrylic palette papers she so graciously shares with me on a regular basis.

Her response was something like this "I love the color and would not change a thing, but ultimately it has to be your decision." 

How's that for definitive? LOL I went with the color. You can see they were finished in the dark from the blackness behind the blinds in my studio. After sleeping on it and returning to the easel in the morning with my coffee, I decided Kim was spot on and I was not going to tone down any of that beautiful color. 

WHAT was I thinking? 

Note: Did you know that the way to tell the difference between the male and female painted box turtle is their eye color? The male has red eyes and the female had dark brown/golden eyes!

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