Showing posts from September, 2019

Making it Across

"Making it Across, Spednic Snapping Turtle" (oil on canvas 10 x 10 in.) It's a hard life, being a turtle! I painted this portrait of a Snapping Turtle, from a photo taken by Don McAlpine of the New Brunswick Museum, in June last year at the BiotaNB survey of Spednic Protected Natural Area, near McAdam, NB. It was crossing the road at the bridge over Diggity Stream. I've shown a thin strip of riverbank beneath the truck, and a reflection of part of the bridge in the chrome bumper, but most of the painting is devoted to the task at hand - Making it Across. The truck, in the original photo, was parked on the far side of the road, but in planning the painting, I took a reference photo of a truck wheel from a more ominous perspective - that of a crossing turtle. I wanted it to look as if the driver has rolled up close to watch it cross and to hurry it along. Or maybe the truck is threatening the plodding reptile - defending the road as Truck Territory. Snappers r

Fish Images Emerging, #2

White Perch Emerging (watercolour, 8 x 5 in.) Here are three more "progress images" from the freshwater fish I painted this spring for the New Brunswick Museum, to be published by the Department of Fisheries & Oceans in their identification cards series. The finished paintings are "biological illustrations", but the stage in which each painting emerges from the paper, is Art. Golden Shiner Emerging (watercolour, 8 x 5 in.) I have no "formula" for painting fish scales across different species. Some have regular rows of scales, with well-defined scale margins, but even then, the rows curve, and increase and decrease like rows of knitting - behind the head, toward the tail, and sometimes in the middle. Then there are those species in which scale row irregularities vary between individuals, and those whose scales, although arranged in rows, are so thin and transparent that the edges are not visible - just the impressions the rows make in the skin.

Fish Images Emerging

Smallmouth Bass Emerging (watercolour, 8x4 in.) In June 2019 I finished the last of 20 fish watercolours to be published as identification cards by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. I remember feeling daunted by the task when the New Brunswick Museum asked me if I would do it, especially since I would be responsible for finding my own photographic reference for all of them. I began in January, and with each painting, I learned more about googling up a useful selection of reference photos, what it feels like to be a fish of each species, and with each painting, further developed techniques for counting and painting scales, drawing and painting fins, and showing different kinds of iridescence. Largemouth Bass Emerging (watercolour, 8 x 4 in.) I like to keep track of my progress on a painting, by photographing each stage. First I make a complete drawing in pencil, and then I start to paint at the head, working toward the tail. There is usually a stage in the process, whe