Recently I have had a few requests asking me how I paint, so I thought I would publish the questions and answers
Why do you paint in your style?
I started off as a realist painter, because I have grown looking at realist art all my life and I appreciate the time it takes to create, compared with other art forms I appreciate realist art the most. But recently I have started to paint impressionist style and now i like to do the two different forms of oil painting.
Impressionism art is like a release and I like to capture a record of the colours and the patterns so gather reference by using my camera phone, which I can pull out if I see something interesting while on the move, i.e. out of a train window. I’m not fussy about the quality, in fact sometimes I want these photos to be out of focus so the detail is not there, and this way I don’t try and paint it. I love to use a vibrant clean colour pallet and mix straight onto the canvas, pushing the paint around, leaving blobs and sometimes scraping the paint off to reveal the under painting or the colour of the canvas, which I often start off by painting black. It’s totally different from realism and painting both styles really helps me to stay creative and removes barriers. For me the two styles help me to balance – it’s Ying and Yang of art.
For realism art, I will take different ingredients of say a bird from here, a dragonfly from there and put them in a scene that I would love to see on a hot summers day. I feel most happy with my art if it is complicated and the background is busy. Some of the most inspiring moments I have had have been looking down the zoom lens of my camera at the subject in front of me.
One day I was luckily enough to see a Herron catch a fish and eat it – it was amazing seeing the little fish struggle for its life, while wriggling in its last seconds it stopped and a drop of water ran down its face, this looked like a tear. I painted this and called it The Last Tear on Hungry Hill.
Another very inspiring moment was when I was a Moorhen family in a little nest in the reeds. The father was zipping about picking up bugs and taking them back to the mum who was feeding the 3 baby chicks, while sitting on more eggs. At one point the male Moorhen chased off a 3 foot grass snake over the river. I was inspired by this brave bird and sketched the background and nest. I went home and planned the painting. That night it started to rain, it rained for days, and when I went back to check on the family the river had risen and the nest, chicks, eggs and all were gone, washed away. Painting Nature is very emotional, I really feel like I become friends with these animals which is probably not a good thing to do.
Do you enjoying painting?
When painting realism art there is really only one main point in all my paintings that I really enjoy what I am doing, and this is mid way.
What happens is I first feel bad if I don’t have anything to paint, I get restless and as I plan the next picture, I often create sketches and drawings, all of which I consider rubbish and throw away, then I draw on to white board in simple lines, no shading, I put on a 'talking book', and I start to paint – as this stage I’m still feeling restless, thinking will this work? I paint about half the painting, and then there comes a point were I can see it coming together, this is the main point of enjoyment for me, but it makes me so happy I want to keep going. Before you know it I am near the end of the painting and the restlessness comes back – what am I going to paint next? Then the whole pattern starts again!
These paintings usually take me about a month, as only paint for a couple of hours at night, and i cant paint for more then a couple of hours in a row as you are concentrating so much.
Impressionist art is different all together - I start by putting on some load music, grab a white pencil, and draw directly on to a black canvas. Then when I'm happy with my rough drawing, I'm straight into the paint, using big blobs of color, which i move around with a pallet knife. Its more fun, and finished a lot quicker, but I dont always feel so rewarded at the end, as its much easier.
Above is at the good stage – this is when I really enjoy painting realism art..
What paints do you use?
Oils – a range, depending on the color. Windsor & Newton, Old Holland, Micheal Harding,
Lots of Cadmium colours
Cadmium orange, yellow deep, yellow pail, red medium, red deep.
Oxide of Chromium
Ultramarine green shade, Winsor blue, Cobalt blue, Cerulean blue
Mars Black, and Paynes gray or I mix Burnt Umber and Prussian blue for a really deep black.
Yellow Oche, Raw Umber, light red, red madder
Mars Violet, Cobalt Violet, Dioxazine Purple,
Mix all colours with a Liqun to speed drying or Drying Linseed oil.
I paint on board, acid free MDF board. I can cut this to any size quickly, so I keep a supply of this already Jesso’d in storage. Or for impressionist art I like to paint on black painted canvas.
Most annoying thing is I hate the new Windsor and Newton child safety bottles – I can’t undo them as they get glued up. It gets to the point where I have tried to cut the bottles open with scalp and nearly lost a finger.
What type of easel do you use?
I have a fantastic easel – its a lovely Mabef. Its one of my stepfathers (Ray Ching) old easels, that my husband found in the cellar of their one day when we were helping to clear it out. It was broken and needed a good sanding down as Ray had painted hundreds of paintings on it and shipped it around the world a few times when they had travelled between Australia, New Zealand and England. My husband restored it and Mabef sent us one of the broken parts for free. Its fantastic, I don’t know how I could do without it.
When I paint impressionist art I often don't use my big easel, instead I paint at a table with a smaller table top easel.
Do you paint from photos and how do you plan a painting?
I use a variety of reference and photos is one of these. I also produce sketches, look at the animals in their environment, read/look at books, watch documentaries.
I try to find out as much as I can about animals and I travel to see them, last year I went to Africa on safari and this is where I saw the baby Rhino and learned about the problems facing Rhino’s today – which is what inspired me to paint ‘Here Today gone tomorrow’.
My next big trip is to go on a group tour to India. I would like to go on the Tiger Study Trip that Steppes Discovery Travel offer, http://www.steppesdiscovery.co.uk/destinations/far+east/india/holidaytypes/group+tours/tiger+and+wildlife+study+safari/
This is the type of interesting trip I like to take to really get to know the animals and see them in their environment, then I can start to plan paintings from here.
To plan the paintings, I like to see the animals in their natural environment. I want to understand the challenges they have as one of the main reasons I paint animals is in hope that others will love them too and then be more interested in helping to save wildlife.
I like to keep a library of reference to help me when I’m in that stage of a painting when I have nearly finished it, and to cheer myself up I have to start to plan the next one.
Do you go to Zoo’s?
YES - I also really like to go to zoo’s too. The problem with zoos is that I always feel extremely sad for the animals, but then I also know that zoos do an amazing job in keeping the rare species that may of otherwise become extent – look at zoos like the one in Prague with the Przewalski horses, or the wild life centers all around the world.
They do an amazing job in not only looking after these animals but also in research on why some species are in decline. Look at the The International Centre for the Birds of Prey they have helped to discover why the vultures in India are in decline.
When you’re in the wild it is rare to get enough time to sketch the animal before they have run off – in fact its often pretty hard to even get a photo! Zoo’s are often the best place to get up close to the animals and as they are used to humans they can be more relaxed, so you can spend time drawing them.
Another great place to get to see the animals up close are the Animal Rehab Centres. These are places that take in animals that have been brought up by humans and who then realise that the animals are too big or scary to keep at home etc, so these Rehab Centres work hard to teach the animals to live in the wild before they release them. One thing worth remembering is that often the animals do not want to go to the wild, I saw a Warthog that spent all his time trying to break back in to the Rehab Centre in South Africa, its was sad in a different way.
Zoo’s, Rehab Centres, Nature Reservations all and need our support, if we don’t visit them then they will have to close. As a wildlife artist I think it is important to support these centres – the good ones of course!
How do you paint?
Well... each painting is different and they all have different challenges. Below are some photos of paintings I have produced at different stages. These are all oil paintings.
Sample 1 – is the painting of Tui my dog. This is one of my earliest paintings and I took the photos so I could remember what to do.
I paint on board that has layers of Jesso. Then I do a rough drawing outline to get the size and details in position – this can take me a few hours, as I like to get all the details in positions so when I paint I can concentrate on the image.
I paint in the blacks and dark colours to create the form.
Adding more colour to the face and other parts. Trying to match the colours as close I can to the my dog.
Now I have added the texture to the fur and colour.
Now I have added the ground and I have to do the hardest part of the painting – this is to sign my name! I know its ridiculous really find that the most difficult part, and my signature always looks dreadful. See in gallery
The next painting is ‘Mr and Mrs Mohabeer’ – named after a lovely lady who works with me. She inspired me to paint jungle Fowl – or Peacocks, and now I’m off to India to see them in the wild..
Stage 1 – the drawing.
Stage 2 – mid way – sorry the light is so bad.
here i have dropped in the washed of colour, and added some detail to the males back.
Finished - I love adding the detail to the eyes and usually paint this in first. In the birds eyes you can often see your own reflection, its a bit spooky.
The same Peahen, before she meet up with her partner. I really enjoy painting these birds, the colours are amazing, and i try and match them as close as possible.
If you have any more questions or you are interested in joining me on a Wildlife Adventure or you would like any ideas for a wildlife trip to get reference then please email me at Tanya.firstname.lastname@example.org