Welcome to the vixen colour study.
When I’m doing a colour study it's kind of like doing a scientific experiment that in the end will save me a whole lot of time and effort when I move on to the final piece.
I have a hypothesis of what colours will work. I mix them up, then I need to get them up on the board. This really is the only way that will help me to figure out whether or not the colours will actually work for the much larger painting.
I started with a raw umber as the underpainting. Raw Umber is a low chroma Yellow. I chose to make the background a lighter value than I usually work with.
I tend to work more quickly as I am trying not to put too much detail into this colour study. The goal is to get the information on the board so I can see what is working and what isn’t working. I took an hour to do this colour study.
As I lay down the values on the rocks I begin to have doubts about the success of this first attempt.
I had to lighten up the snow. My plan is to work from lighter to slightly darker as the snow goes back on the picture plane. I realize that I went too dark too fast. In the end I need to lighten up the snow quite a bit. I get a larger brush to get the paint up faster.
There is a couple of days between the first and second colour studies. When I woke up the next morning, I looked with a fresh critical eye at the results of the first colour study. I realized that I needed to address the blahness of the fox. I had brought the chroma down too far and as a result she just wasn’t colourful enough.
It is totally worth taking the time to do a second attempt to see if the tweaks that I have decided to do will actually work.
As I launch into this new painting I know that I've done already once, which means the second time is much easier because a lot of thinking has been done already. The decisions made the first time through, now gives me a stronger sense of where I want to go and how it's going to work out.
The first thing I changed is that I used burnt Sienna for the underpainting. I also made the underpainting a darker value, though I didn’t end up using an underpainting in my final piece. I shall explain that in the next video.
The tweaks I made to the colour mixtures was to add more chroma, more colour to each of the paint mixtures. I am careful not to add too much more colour. I find that most of my nature paintings the chroma maybe 1 or 2, but for this I moved up to a 3 or 4. For a reference Zero is a grey (no chroma) in the Munsell colour process. I felt that the initial mixtures were too greyed out, another way of saying it is that the chroma was too low.
The snow seems lighter now, though that could just be the result of the underpainting being a darker value. But I know that the snow is lighter because I went from a value 9 to a value 9.5 which is white with just a small amount of black (low chroma blue).
I chose to darken legs of this cross vixen more. Another tweak that helps the painting look stronger.
The out of focus branches in the background really held up the start of the larger painting until I could resolve how to paint what I was seeing.
This fox this is what is called a crossfox. She has dark around her eyes that gives her a very dramatic unusual look. As a kit, she would have been black, not the typical red fox. It is a genetic variance.
Below are the two completed colour studies side by side. Yup #2 is much better...
As soon as I got the colour study done I began to work on the huge painting.
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Yellowknife watercolour and acrylic artist Shawna Lampi-Legaree’s latest venture can best be summarized as capturing moments of beauty from the world around her.
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