Swanning around

The Story Behind the Painting

This wonderful cygnet was photographed at Lake Alford Park next to the Gympie gold mine and historical museum. The cygnet was swimming around submerging it head under water and coming up with a bill full of weeds and pecking at anything floating on the water. Its parents were on a nearby bank pruning themselves, occasionally glancing over to see what junior was up to.

I was originally going to paint the cygnet swimming alongside its mother but it would’ve just end up being too small in the painting. I wanted to show all the babies fluffy down and the slightly wet matted down on its neck, this detail would just not have been possible on a small painting.

So I decided to paint a mother and cygnet in separate paintings that later became 3 paintings, but more on that story in my next blog.

Three things I learned on this field trip

  1. I didn’t realise a baby swan was called a cygnet, I guess swan-let wasn’t correct after all.
  2. That a cygnet of a black swan was white.
  3. My head easily gets burnt because of my thinning hair, must remember hat next time, trouble is my memory is also going, so remembering where I parked the car uses most of my brain power nowadays let alone remembering my hat.

My Painting Process

A close up of the cygnets head, a place I always start and make sure the subject has good eyes and plenty of detail in the bill. The bill was a dull red to a rusty brown colour that will eventually turn into a striking red like its parents.

I didn’t realise how much detail there could be in the down of a swans neck, It was slightly matted with water and this made it so much more interesting to paint. Unlike fur the down seamed to go off in all different directions and came to tiny points.

Here you can see how I map out the areas of down on the cygnets back. I paint this in a slightly diluted neutral grey and then gradually add more paint and less water for each coat.

The next stage is to add a light coat of white paint and gradually build this also up to more paint and less water ratio.

Next I add a few ripples on the water in a very light grey lines radiating from the cygnet.

I work on a convincing reflection but didn’t include the head as the colour of the reflected bill would distract from the bill in the centre of the painting as no other colour is visible.

The cygnet is low down in the painting with a large black space above its head as I was trying to show how much it has to grow to an adult swan.

By doing this I kept it on the same surface plane as the future painting of its parent that would look much more pleasing to the eye once hung together.

Last I finish with more ripples radiating out to fill the page and a few incoming ripples from the parent swan on the right of the paper. This will be my next painting so sometimes you have to look into the future and predict what you’re going to paint next and have a plan.

Finished artwork framed and ready to be displayed in my next exhibition “Surrounded by Nature”.

What did I learn form this painting ?

I learned that I like all the fine detail I can get with white paint if I slowly build it up in layers. I think I could paint an adult white swan but that would take about 10 times longer than a black swan on black paper.

I also learned to think of multiple paintings rather than single paintings all the time. Paintings need friends too.

Gouache on Canson Paper

For my Black Label collection I use Winsor & Newton Gouache on Black Colourfix Art Spectrum Paper or Black Mi-Teintes Touch Canson Paper.

My painting come from my own experiences that I have experienced and photographed while traveling. By reading this blog, you as a viewer can now hear The Story Behind the Painting. Where, when, what was happening while I was photographing the wildlife.
If you want more details about my adventures checkout my travel blog website www.ChrisOsborneAdventures.wordpress.com 

Enjoy, Chris Osborne

One Comment on “Swanning around

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