The path to the painting
When I agree to take on a project it begins in the mind. The ideas, the researching of images, the preparation of sketches, ideas, a color scheme. It takes very little ACTUAL working time at this stage, but it consumes my mind for some days and even in my sleep as I think about how I am going to go about painting the image. It might look like.....stalling.....looking at snake pictures. Then the drawing....fiddling around ...... a few afternoons with the actual drawing, scaling and putting the pieces into perspective. Then, that magical day arrives when the inevitable cannot be put off any longer....I clean off glass palettes (more diversion).....squirt out a few colors .... and I paint!
After that initial drawing I spot colors upon the pristine white canvas. It takes the first bits of mid-tone color. I have been working with an approach of taking the boldest color of the palette and covering the canvas with it. I use a very loose mixture of pigment and light medium. It's almost transparent and my underdrawing will show through this layer which will guide the next layers.
The next session has me adding more definition to the subjects. Yeah, it's still weird looking, but trust me; it will all work out!
I like to listen to our DirecTV soft jazz station while I paint. It is motivating but doesn't demand my attention. I like to drift away on the tunes, not even knowing the artists, but enjoying the flow while I paint. Three hours will pass and I won't know it until I come up for air.
Winter weather helps
The details of each snake are now starting to develop. Another few hours to bring it into focus. I am continuing to work wet-into-wet even after several days. I use Grumbacher Medium II which is slow drying, but not THAT slow drying. The canvas and the palettes are stored in the frigid main area of our barn when I'm not working. It prevents the paint from drying as is equal to putting everything in the freezer!
The final product
Scales are painted, highlights and a general fine tuning. This will sit for a few days to dry before I put a protective spray of matte acrylic on the surface. Into a frame and it will move to its new home. Giving it a break for a few days will give me time to come back with "fresh eyes" to decide if it really is done.
What did I learn?
It doesn't really matter what the subject is.....find the art in it. I found myself being very fascinated with snakes having spent these weeks studying their own version of beauty. Everything boils down to shapes. The shapes I represented happen to belong to a large poisonous reptile. I like them a lot from my end of the brush!