It’s difficult to recall the exact moment when I discovered Palaeolithic Art. I can only imagine I was at least partially exposed to it through the medium of art history, or television, or books. I remember as I delved more into this topic, being instantly hooked by the subtlety of colours in the brilliant, rust red bison and stunning horses.
It was a love affair that has lasted for eight years, and counting, and delving deep into this subject, I learned a lot about colour and mood, and how one intricately leads to the other.
While there’s no comparison between grinding earth, spittle and biological compounds with our easy squeezable plastic tubes, the qualities of those colours are no less obvious.
Yellow Ochre, Indian Red, Naples Yellow and Burnt Sienna are my palette staples; and here are just a few of their bold combinations.
To be influenced by the deep past is the best source of inspiration, and limiting yourself to just a handful of pigments is a perfect way of creating your own painting signature. Why choose from 50 pigments when our great-great-great (cont,) grandparents were happy with just those that they could work with their hands?
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It’s always insightful to look back on older works, particularly the ones that you were satisfied with, whilst cringing at those that didn’t. Whilst my artistic journey has now spanned almost 8 years, I’m intrigued about the lessons I can learn from myself. A bit of self-reflection goes a long way.
Looking back on this painting from 2012, I can instantly say that I love this painting, as much as I did when I had just finished it (I was so enthusiastic about this piece that, incidentally, I forgot to sign it – normally I sign a painting at around the 3/4 mark). It was one of those magic formulas that just worked. But rediscovering this piece almost three years on I realised that there are many aspects of it that I would have done differently, so much so that Imay re-work this piece in the coming days.
Here are my critiques:
1. It’s a little too dead centre.
Whilst I love that the branch effectively splits the composition in two, I would have re-positioned the parrot herself slightly further down the canvas, so the line of her head could follow the branch up into the top corner.
2. Bring out the blues.
What makes the Eclectus female so beautiful is that stunning red plumage, but the blue wing feathers and neck markings really pop too. More blue on the neck would have worked wonders.
3. Put her in harmony with her environment.
Whilst I love the texture of the background, I forgot one important rule; that the subject should reflect the colours of the environment, and vice versa. Some touches of green and yellow in her feathers would have brought her to life and made her more 3 dimensional.
But here are the positives:
This parrot is all about red, and whilst there are many reds supplied in tubes, it’s difficult to get the exact red that you want.
I’m not talking primary colours, though the red/yellow/blue combination is evident on the left hand side of the canvas. The primary wing feathers have just the right amount of shadow and texture to make them project forward from her tail and make you want to reach out and touch them. I may extend and enhance the yellows in the background as perhaps the green is a little too dominant.
3.She’s got that look.
Either you’ve just raided her nest, or you’ve caught her on a cheeky escapade with another male; either way, she shouldn’t have caught you looking.
Oh, and of course another lesson to be learned: take a photo in natural light. That’s a job for tomorrow.