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I Finally completed the wolf painting, after adding all of the detail that I wanted to both wolf and landscape. Having used acrylics for the first time I have decided that I really like them, for the range of effects that can be achieved – from the subtle build up of washes, textures and colour to very fine detail.
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I have been busy over the last couple of weeks purchasing a canvas for the wolf painting and setting about preparing it. The canvas is already primed, ready for painting but, as you can see in this image, retains a strong canvas texture. As I wanted to work on a smoother surface to allow for the use of subtle washes and brush work I decided to give the canvas a couple of coats of ‘Gesso’ to effectively fill in the texture and provide a level base coat.
All that is needed is a container of a good quality gesso available form art shops. A fine bristle decorators’ brush (about 2.5” width), a plastic container to put the required amount of gesso in (I found a cut down milk bottle ideal) and some fine sand paper for smoothing the surface between coats.
Before starting I inserted the wooden wedges supplied with the canvas into each corner to increase the tension of the canvas (and prevent any sagging). These should be positioned in relation to the frame as shown in the photographs and inserted into the respective slots provided, until a firm fit is achieved.
Only dip the tip of the paintbrush into the gesso and apply the first coat in vertical strokes, working the gesso into the texture then smoothing it across the canvas as you go.
The gesso also gives the canvas a whiter finish as can be seen on the left of this photograph with the untreated canvas on the right.
Once the first coat of gesso has been applied then the canvas should be left for at least two hours to dry thoroughly before sanding with the fine sandpaper and wiping dust off with a soft cloth ready to start the second coat. The second coat of gesso should be painted on at 90 degrees to the first, in this case horizontally, to ensure even coverage. Once dry give a final light sand, wipe down with a soft cloth and the canvas is ready.
I’m currently working on a large painting of a wolf. It’s my first venture into colour for a while so it has presented some challenges regarding my approach and which materials to use . I did some initial research online to get a feel for posture and movement, then I visited Kingussie Wildlife Park to study their fabulous wolves, in a Scots pine forest setting.
I completed my initial sketch in pencil and wanted to capture a relaxed pose, but with the wolf still alert to it’s surroundings.
I have been experimenting with different materials and eventually decided to use acrylics. I’ve never used them before but there’s a first time for everything and they seem to give a good range of effects; washes, brush marks and spray as you can see below.
I added some tone and colour to my working sketch to start to create the form, for reference when undertaking the final painting.