Painting the Pileated Woodpecker in Acrylic - (1-3)

Expanding Your Artistic Horizons Series

Painting Session 1 thru 3
Date: 04/29/2017
Subject: Pileated Woodpecker Session 1 thru 3
Medium: Acrylic on Paper

As part of my "Expanding Artistic Horizons" series I decided to paint a Pileated Woodpecker in Acrylic. I have some experience with acrylic because when I first started, I painted for a few years with acrylic then moved to Oil. Because I wanted to use acrylic in more of a watercolor form I choose to paint on paper. I am using "Fluid" cold pressed 140 lb. Acid-free watercolor paper. A variety of Acrylic brands Golden, Winsor Newton and Liquitex paints. I will continue to update this post as I complete a painting session.

Painting Session 1 thru 3 - 04/29/2017

Pileated Woodpecker Acrylic on paper
Session 1 thru 3
I had not decided to create this post until today, so the painting is actually a result of the first three sessions.  In session one,  I used a combination of photos to create the drawing wich I drew in pencil directly on the paper. Painting with, slightly watered down acrylic I filled in the tree and woodpecker to get a general sense of how the acrylic reacts to paper. I first noticed how quick the acrylic absorbs into the paper and dries in a short period of time. From what I remember it dries quicker than it did when painting on canvas. Also, my initial intent was to leave the background white but I immediately saw this was not going to be possible.  Because I painted the tree along the right edge and off the top and bottom of the page, the balance was off and too much white on the left, contrasting with the woodpecker. In session two, I bought some Golden acrylic retarder hoping it would help the drying time and provide some blending capabilities. On paper, it seems to help a little but not much. Maybe on canvas, it would help because the acrylic would not absorb as quick. I decided to fill in the background with leaves hoping to achieve the look of a shallow depth of field. A look similar to a photograph with the foreground in focus and background out of focus.  I painted much smaller leaves than in the photo of the painting. In session three I decided the leaves were out of scale to the woodpecker so I decided to make them larger. Originally I was going to paint beech leaves but have now switched to the elm leaves overlapping the dead portion of the tree. All of this session was spent on the leaves and I am trying to achieve some sense of backlighting. I have a long way to go to finish the leaves, bird, tree and add in the legs once the rest is done. More to come after the next session



© Michael A. Burns and Michael Burns Art 2017.

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