Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tiger - Silent Stalker

Well sometimes being blocked has it's advantages. Although I have managed to put out a small cow illustration I haven't painted anything really serious in quite some time. Not really knowing what to do with myself today I came across a photograph I took last year of a beautiful female tiger. The best part of the photograph was that there weren't any bars in the way and she was right up against the glass panel looking way across the other side of the enclosure at her sisters playing on the hilltop. I must say it was a once in a lifetime shot second only to photographing this beautiful animal in the wild. Anyway I kind of forgot about it until I was shuffling through some papers today and I was inspired.

I began with a rough sketch on Arches 140lb cold pressed watercolor paper, a paper I reserve for those special paintings because of the cost. When I was satisfied with that I used a small amount of frisket to keep the whiskers from disappearing. I don't like to rely on frisket to often but for this purpose I made an exception. Besides do you know how hard it would be to paint around those whiskers and still have a free brushstroke?

I began to lay in the color by layering light washes, begining with a light ochre and adding burnt sienna as I went along. When I was satisfied with the browns and ochres I began to use an ivory black (Most watercolorists do not use this color for reasons I never quite understood, I however embrace any color I can get my paws on) I started off with a wash of black in the general areas and began shading her fur. When I was ok with what I had I took a break to work on the eyes. Eyes can make or break a painting and I paid close attention to it. Bright yellow was layed in with a small amount of spring green to give them a sparkle only a cat's eye seems to have. A light shading of black to round them and carefully a painted iris leaving the highlight finished them off.

Now the fun part, the stripes. Using a wash of ivory and a relatively thin brush I lightly painted the stripes as if I was holding a pencil and sketching them in. I then softened the edges to make them rest into the fur.

Now the worst part, the background. How I hate this part, what to do? Shall I use the greens of the jungle and soften the background to suggest foliage or should I just keep it simple and compliment the neutrals of the painting so as not to distract the detail I worked so hard on or should I combine the two? At first I thought to combine the two add some olvie and forest greens to the dark sepia tones but as I began to paint I realized that keeping this simple and monotone was the way to go.

So that is how this painting came about. It took me about 2½ hours to complete, the original painting measuring 8x10, twice the size I normally paint. Hopefully you enjoy it.

Silent Stalker can be found on Zazzle, RedBubble, and Greeting Card Universe

to be continued...

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