Michele Clamp Art

animals

Southwick Camel

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Southwick Camel. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 13”x19”

Another from our trip to Southwick’s zoo. You can’t really go wrong with a camel as a subject. They have wonderfully shaped heads and bodies and a very characteristic posture. I’m leaving this for today as I’m not sure it’s finished but, apart from a few touches, I think I’m pretty happy with it.

(James says I should do more detail in the fur but I’m not convinced).

Bee Too

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Bee Too. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

I didn’t feel I’d done bees justice yesterday so I had another go today. Chose a different angle and made sure the composition wasn’t too regular. The placement of the legs in particular was a little stilted in the previous one.

Something Different - Alligator

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Alligator. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 11”x14”

Or maybe a crocodile? I’m unclear as to the difference.

But anyway. Something happened today that doesn’t usually happen to me. I couldn’t think what to paint. Nothing was presenting itself as interesting and I almost gave it up as a bad job. But as I was noodling through some pictures of Marco Island I thought - alligators! They have a lot of those in Florida don’t they? So an alligator (or crocodile?) it was.

I wanted this to be quite subtle and to only suggest the bobbly skin they have. This left the definition in the teeth and eyes. I think he’s rather handsome.


Unbiased Ram

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Ram. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 13”x19”

There’s a sporting event on tonight. This is in no way intended to be a prediction.


Cheeky Giraffe

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Cheeky giraffe.   Michele Clamp watercolor.   11"x14"

I had a new batch of Fabriano Artistico paper delivered today which I've been waiting for as paper supplies have run low.    After unpacking the goodies, however, I was sitting around procrastinating and being indecisive about what to paint.    I couldn't face yet another Lake Bled fiasco (I have yet another one that I couldn't face posting) but then remembered it is the start of a new month and wetcanvas.com would have a new challenge.

And a rather fine challenge it was.   Enormous fun to paint this.    Lots of lovely purples in the shadows which you wouldn't expect at first sight.   Turns out giraffes have very strange faces but it came out extremely well.   Hooray for Fabriano Artistico and wetcanvas.com

Horse Wrestling - The End

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Well here is the final thing.   I think I'm pretty pleased with this although as always it has to sink in for a few days to know for sure.   This has been the most complicated commission so far and was a lot of work.   Definitely worthwhile though and now I can paint horses noses like a pro.

Let's have a quick look back as to how I got here.

My first attack was just a quick sketch to see whether my horse drawing ability had improved :

Not perfect by any means but much improved from even a year ago.    This encouraged me so I ventured into a color sketch.

Hmm.   Not quite what I had envisioned.   A bit too sketchy for a commissioned work I think. 

How about if I include some background (straw clutching here) :

 

 Nope. Back to the drawing board.

So let's expand the subject matter a little I thought.   Include a couple of extra riders and see how that works out :

Oh good grief no.    I like the shadows on the white horse and nothing else.    Let's try something else.    How about just a torso shot?

Ok so we're going in completely the wrong direction.   An intervention is needed here.   This is obviously not going anywhere.    Need to completely rethink and try and remember how to paint.

At this point I put down the brushes for a day or so and came back fresh.   I decided to tighten up the drawing somewhat and go back to the 3 horses and riders.    This started to look a lot better :

   MUCH happier now.    The drawing is better, the painting is better,  the brushwork is better, and the horses really do look like horses.     So what changed?   One thing was I really took a lot of care over the drawing.    Carefully observing all the shapes correctly and taking some time over it.  This made it a lot easier to apply the paint and keep it loose knowing I didn't have to correct the drawing at the same time.

But I still wasn't completely happy.    I wasn't sure that the 'three in a row' look was the best so into photoshop (actually gimp) I went and played around with the arrangement.  Pulling them all together in a clump felt a lot better so I went with that :

Yup.   This is the one - let's do this.

The final change I made was to increase the size of paper I was using.    Everything up until now had been on 11"x14" paper.    I upped the size to 18"x24" and made the painting portrait.

So the plan was :

 - Careful drawing.

 - Decide which edges to lose ahead of time.

- Be careful painting the horses heads and legs - these bits are the most important on a horse.

- Keep the faces recognizable as human but not of anyone in particular.   When I'm painting from photos and haven't met the people in person I find it very difficult to get a likeness.

- Make it look like a painting.  Not sure what I mean by this but it's basically to make sure all the shapes hang together and everything is part of a whole with no areas of the paper left out.   This doesn't mean paint on every square inch but rather that every part relates to every other part.

By this morning I was almost there.   All the horses had gone in well as had the people.  Increasing the image size had helped enormously and I was pleased with the final composition.

The very last thing was to put some bunting in across the top.   It was actually quite tricky to keep this loose but flicking a lot of water about helped here.

Phew!

Horse Wrestling - Take 5

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Getting somewhere now.   Decided on a bigger format and rearranged the composition.

Using image editing software I squished the horses together to make things a bit more interesting.

Some Intermediates: