Flamingos in the Camargue: Finished Painting

flamingos-in-the-camargue

This follows on from the last post on flamingos which just showed the preparatory drawing. I think this is one occasion where I prefer the coloured version to the black and white. The colours are really vivid

We were in the Camargue region in the Rhone estuary watching the white horses which I have already painted, and also the flamingos which breed there. This is apparently the only place in Europe that flamingos breed, although I have subsequently seen them in Sicily. Matbe they were just stopping over.

Curiously these flamingos were more white than pink, which is the image we tend to have of these birds. I have probably used more pink wash than necessary in order to get some definition between the birds. In actual fact their heads were pale pink, whilst under their wings they were bright red/orange. I used cadmium red for these markings and that was spot-on accurate

The legs again were a very deep and bright pink. I read somewhere of someone using permanent rose with some cadmium orange to get a good flamingo colour. I tried that and got cadmium red !  Oh well, two routes to the same destination, which is not necessarily such a bad thing.

I started with a light pencil drawing taken from the original sketch. I used violet to put in the shadows on the birds and on the water, which gave me the form to base the painting on. Underneath the birds, and running down the paper, I laid a very dilute wash of Windsor Yellow, as an  experiment really, which I was glad of later, and I will explain why when I get there.

I then started to put in the red markings, and the birds started to take shape. I put in reflections of the legs in the water. I left this for 24 hours to harden off, and then laid a dilute wash of phthalo blue and cobalt mix, for the water. Over the yellow, this glaze turned a soft green, and I think, made a better water colour The red reflections showed through and looked convincing. So far so good

The shadows on the water made by the birds, I deepened with Indigo. Likewise some of the deep shadows on the birds and especially on the legs, I put in with Indigo. The same colour worked well for the tips of the beaks

So there we have the finished painting. I keep looking at it and thinking it looks bright but then again it was a bright subject

Always pleased to hear from anyone else who has experience of painting these colourful birds

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Flamingos in the Camargue: first sketch drawing

flamingos-in-the-camargue

I took a number of photographs of the flamingos when I was in the Camargue. None of them were usable, so I took this group from someone else’s picture as the birds had formed a natural composition which, I thought, would make an interesting painting.

This is just the sketch done in my favourite Payne’s Grey. What is it about black and white, that I often prefer the sketch to the finished painting

They breed here apparently, the only place in Europe where they do that. I have seen them in Sicily as well, but perhaps they don’t have a breeding ground there

These birds are white, with bright pink flashes under the wings. Legs are a very bright deep pink. Always interesting trying to paint a white bird on white paper. I don’t really want any background against those long white necks, as I want them to stand out sharply. I will have to give that some thought

There will need to be colour around the undercarriages as reflections will be important and part of the composition, probably a blue of some sort. Phthalo with some Cobalt mixed in is a good Mediterranean colour, and could work with the deep pink legs. The pink will probably be Permanent Rose with a little Cadmium Orange.

Whether I shall have this finished for the Pirbright Art Club December exhibition remains to be seen. Let’s see how it turns out first!

The Contented Donkey

contented-donkey

I was pleased to be asked to provide a painting for auction for a well-known charity involved in the rescue of horses and donkeys in Egypt

Many years ago I painted from the charming photograph inset, a watercolour study. I sold it subsequently and then forgot about it. Trying to remember what horse or donkey study I could paint, I remembered this one and finally found the photograph

We were coming back from the Cotswolds, and pulled off the highway at Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire A beautiful village in that lovely honey-coloured Cotswold stone which was the home of Francis Lovell, close confidante to Richard III, who limped home to Minster Lovel Hall to lick his wounds after the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. He continued to resist the Tudors and was killed at Stoke in 1487. The whole setting is delightful and the old dovecote is still there to see. The donkeys were part of the setting and I photographed one or two including the one inset. They are fun to draw but remember the long ears otherwise they will become a horse

The pencil study I did just now, and will transfer onto  watercolour paper. I actually have a commission on the easel at the moment which is a view of Bosham in Sussex, with a lovely sweep of the harbour with the Saxon Church in the background. Bosham Harbour is a delight to paint and I have done many times. When the painting is more complete, I will blog about it, as the history is fascinating.

For now, we are talking about the donkey. I am painting this alongside Bosham and also working up a picture of flamingos brought back from the Camargue. Very rarely do I do three easels at once, so let’s hope I don’t come unstuck

I attach a picture of the painting of Christmas Shopping in Guildford , now framed,which goes on sale at the end of this month for charity in St. Nicholas Church, Guildford with all the Christmas cards, one of which, of course, is from this painting.   I am attaching also the framed picture of the Wild Horses in the Camargue, which is now ready for the next exhibition

christmas-shopping-in-guildford-high-street-framed

The framed version of Christmas Shopping in Guildford High Street, which has been donated to Cards for Good Causes. Sorry about the reflections

wild-horses-of-the-camargue-framed

Wild Horses of the Camargue framed ready for exhibition. Again the reflections are annoying but I couldn’t get rid of them

Quite a bit to do, so hope to have something to show you next time

Wild Horses of the Camargue: the finished painting

wild-horses-of-the-camargue-finished-painting

Well, this is the finished painting

Quite a lot of work building up the shadows on the horses. They have so much muscle which has to be shaded correctly. in order to look right. Having stared at this painting for so long, I just can’t tell any longer if it looks right or not

As well as showing horses, I also wanted to show speed and independence of spirit which these animals possess in the wild.

I wanted to paint the flamingos from the Camargue as well but commissions are backing up which is a happy problem, so sadly flamingos may have to wait for a while

I have been asked to paint something for Egypt Equine Aid which I am pleased to do, which may well be one of my donkey paintings which I have not done for years, so that should be interesting. They have a Christmas auction but paintings have to be in in November so not that much time

Horses of the Camargue: Preparing to Paint

Line Drawing on Watercolour Paper

The Line Drawing on watercolour paper

I have transferred the sketch just as a line drawing onto the watercolour paper. The size of the image is roughly what I want, about 30×40 centimetres

The painting will be interesting to say the least. The horses should be lighter than the background, and as you know, you can only go from light to dark with watercolour and not vice versa. The manes and tails in the photographs seem to glow as though they have light behind them. I think they will have to be masked out for that to happen. I may have to put background in first, which will be amusing

I won’t have a lot of time this week as we are going away soon to Sicily, another wonderful source of material. I think before I go, I will hopefully have time to give the painting an all-over wash of Naples yellow and Raw Sienna, which should give the glow of low sunshine that I want. Fingers crossed on that one

So, it may be nearer the end of the month before I can finish the painting completely. This won’t be an easy painting to do for the reasons stated. We shall just have to see how it turns out

 

White Horses of the Camargue

Camargue Horses

White Horses of the Camargue

When we were in the south of France a few weeks ago, we finished our voyage down the River Rhone at Arles. I have already mentioned my walking tour of the city in the footsteps of van Gogh, as well as the magnificent Roman amphitheatre

Just south of the city, and in the salt marshes of the Rhone estuary, is the Camargue region, famous for its semi-wild horses, its black bulls bred for fighting and also flamingos, which breed there, the only breeding ground of that species in Europe.

I say the horses are semi-wild. They roam the region more or less at will until round up time, but also they are used for riding, and the tamer ones used by riding schools and trekking stations. They are, I believe one of the oldest breeds in Europe, and because of the remoteness of the area, the bloodstock remains undiluted

I wanted to paint them. I do paint horses occasionally, usually heavy draft horses as I find them intriguing, but the Camargue horses are something of a challenge, because of their colour as much as anything. You can always find one white horse or two perhaps in a herd, but a complete herd all the same colour is unusual, and would make a striking painting.

I took some pictures of my own, which were shot from the hip very often as an opportunity presented itself, and were ok but not the best. I bought a photograph from a local, which was much more impressive, and am using this to compose something which I hope will make an interesting painting

I have sketched something out as above, using Paynes Grey watercolour which I now prefer to ink, which I think will work. Quite a lot of shadow of course on white and how to make it stand out against white paper will be interesting too. I shall transfer this sketch onto watercolour paper and see how we get on