Friday, 19 August 2016

Painting the Bonny Brown Hare!

This is the story of the creation of a recent wildlife painting. Everywhere I go I see paintings, sculptures and photos of Hares - it seems that people love them. As I have some of my own nice Hare photos it suddenly felt like time to create a painting! This is what it ended up looking like.


The process of its development will be familiar to regular readers of my Blog by now, but every painting is different so the story is ever fresh! It starts off with transferring a sketch across to the canvas-board. In the photograph below I have also started to block in the background. In this case it is the background to the background! The surrounding grasses present a multi-layered texture which I am going to have to build up in stages.

Below the background has progressed and I have started to block in some of the tonal masses. At the same time I am trying to mix something like the right colours. I am working in acrylics and this will be the under-painting to be finished in oils. The tint of the green background jumps about a bit in this series of photos. This is a problem with getting the tonal balance right in the photos, it actually is the same green from photo to photo!

 What you cannot see so far is that I am starting on this painting in my local U3A Art Group session. Here we all are, hard at work.

I only have two hours in this session so I push things as far as I can. It is a good discipline and there is a good work ethic in the group. Here the facial details start to appear. In my opinion it is always the eye and the mouth that carry the painting and gives it impact so I spend time on this.

 I don't know if you have heard of the U3A? It stands for University of the Third Age. It is an international movement in which retired people come together to form groups to pursue activities that interest them. The group facilitators, or teachers, are drawn from the membership itself. They are not paid, they voluntarily bring their particular expertise to share with the group. As you can imagine, there is a lot of expertise out there amongst retired people. Consequently there is a very wide range of groups, especially in the big cities. Try Googling "U3A" to find your local branch. It is amazing and hardly anyone has heard of it!

This is as far as I could get in the group session and will serve as the underpainting. I have been having problems with the facial expression. The earlier stages I showed you above had the muzzle a bit too long - too horse-like! In these last two I have compacted it a bit, but will have to look at it again when I get it home.

OK, here it is at home now (below), that is my little bottle of Linseed Oil on the right and you can just see the bottom of my bedroom curtains top left! That's how I know where we are. I work in oils now to refine colours and textures. The chest fur is coming out a bit warmer in tone than the face. I have used a greenish tint in the darker features of the face and I now have to pull the colour harmony together a bit by adding some warmer touches. It is important to stand back and assess the overall impression I am creating rather than just concentrate on details.

 So, it is shaping up nicely now. I have not put any oils on the green background yet but now it is time to attempt that grass. It gives me the shivers as there is no real way back if it all goes wrong now. Just be bold!

 It didn't go as badly as I had feared, so now I spend more time solidifying the Hare and pulling it all together. You can see how the face has become more solid and the fur texture appears in the stage shown below. There's my Linseed Oil again!

Some further refinements all round just about finish it. I spend just a little more time on the eye details then try to make myself leave it alone. Stop fiddling, just leave it alone!

 And here is the final work posing in its posh frame. 

 And just a little detail from the face area. You can click on any of the above photos to enlarge them somewhat, but the photo below brings you in really close.

 So that's it for this one. Please visit my website at and you can see all my paintings for sale at Perhaps you would like to buy one?