Thursday 9 February 2017

Paisley Rabbit Cover, Leaf By Leaf (Part 2)

Now for the second instalment of 'showing you how I created the book cover artwork for Paisley Rabbit And The Treehouse Contest.' You can see the first part of this post here.

I left you poised to start laying in the basic colours for Paisley Rabbit and the flycatcher birds. Below you can see that stage completed. I tend to take these photos at the end of a day's painting, not stage-by-stage, so in this shot you can also see I have started to define the creeping ivy.
White spaces filled in and looking vaguely like animals.
The following day I removed all the masking fluid, leaving some very pale speckling across the bark. I decided to do that now so I could keep on adding paint to the branches, and gradually soften and darken those areas that had previously been protected by masking fluid. Sometimes I take away the mask too early and there is not much difference in tone between the applications of watercolour. Then other times, I remove the mask too late and it looks like somebody has sneezed all over the painting!
Mask off - may the true painting identify itself.
By this stage I was in the usual tonal/contrast dilemma that all my paintings go through. I wanted to make sure the top canopy was suitably dark enough to make centre strong in contrast. The left side of Paisley is lit, placing the other side of the ivy and branch in relative darkness. I really wanted to push that 3D contrast by matching it to the dark tones in the canopy.
Sloshing lots of paint with a big brush.
I was really piling on the paint, keeping things loose with the hope I could define the leaves at a later time.
Leaves become more defined.
Above you can see how I managed to outline individual leaves, by scrubbing back paint and creating contrasting hard edges where I could, particularly in the ivy. By now I was beginning to think this painting would never end.
Darker branches to create a separation between foreground and background
Finally I'm towards the end of the watercolour (and my wits) here. I was concerned the image would be a full frontal assault of green, with very little breathing space. How could I solve that problem? By adding more green of course! The logic was to darken the main branch of the tree, in the hope of pushing back the leaves in the background. I think it worked. You can see the finished painting below and really get an understanding of how much darker the canopy and main branch have become.

You can also spot all the little bits of pastel cerulean blue gouache and yellow ochre I used to further define the leaves and create a little bit of cool reflected light in the shaded areas.
Paisley Rabbit Book Cover
Watercolour and Gouache
42 x 55cm
Now the painting is finished, the next step is to decide on a suitable layout for the text. Once that is completed I will of course dutifully post the fruits of my labour on this 'ere blog. Until that time, take care and don't decide to paint an overly-complicated series of branches and leaves, unless you wish to loose your sanity!


Angelsdoor * Penny said...

This illustration is clearly an enormous amount of work, and you have done such an outstanding job here.. Your attention to every little detail in the leaves is mind blowing. All you hard work paid off. It is just beautiful!

anthemsweet said...

I am heaving a sigh of satisfaction on your behalf. Splendid!

Chris Dunn said...

Thank you Penny and Anthemsweet :)

Fiona T said...

Just discovered your blog through pinterest .This painting is so beautiful. The detail in the tree is just gorgeous. Thank you so much for going to the time and trouble of posting so much about your painting processes. I am a very amateur self taught watercolourist - seeing how your works progress and your comments about them is massively helpful and encouraging to me.
Kind Regards

Chris Dunn said...

Thank you Fiona T. It's great to know this series of posts has helped you. I'm still learning from reading posts by other artists, and I expect to be doing it for the rest of my life!

Sandra Cox said...

I love this! It puts me right there in the tree.

Chris Dunn said...

Thanks Sandra :)

Marijke van Ooijen said...

Hay Chris,

I found also your blog with pinterest..
And I am exated...
LOVE LOVE your work!
You are a GREAT artist...
I love to follow your blog...

A lot of happiness from Marijke
from The Netherlands.

ingebears said...

Just discovered your art and love it!!
Thank you so much for sharing your painting processes.
Greetings all the way from South Africa,

Chris Dunn said...

Thanks Marijke and Ingrid, I'm glad you found me!

Unknown said...

This is a wonderful delicious complex discovery, your art, and the inimitable descriptions of your process, whereby I really see what you are talking about, and venturing toward. Wonderful to discover. Thankyou!

Chris Dunn said...

Thanks Gwen :)

Tammie Lee said...

I truly enjoyed going through the stages you shared with us.
An incredibly beautiful piece. I love trees and you have honored this one, for sure.