What did you make?
This is a painting of an African lion. For lack of a better name, I entitled it Panthera leo. I did it on a 9 x 12-inch canvas board and painted it in acrylics. In total, I'd estimate that I worked on it for over twenty hours.
How did you make it?
A few weeks ago, I got a batch of several hundred reference photos from some friends who went on safari in Africa (something I would LOVE to do someday). Lions have always been on my list of favorite animals, so I knew I most likely wanted to do a lion. It took me a while to decide which photo I wanted to work from. Once I finally settled on one, I got to work. I'd been planning to enter a piece in the county fair all year, but as my family knows all too well, I'm really bad at entering art contests on time. And remembering the due date, for that matter. I thought I had at least a week, but when I looked up the dates, I discovered I had about TWO AND A HALF DAYS. I usually don't cut it quite this close. In fact, I don't think I've ever completed a painting of this detail in such a short amount of time. The day before the due date, I spent practically the entire day painting, stayed up until past 1 AM, then got up at 5 AM to finish it. My brain was pretty well-fried by the end of it all.
Where did you make it?
I have an easel set up in a little alcove next to the window in my room. It's where I do all of my paintings, and you'll see some pictures of it later on. I brought in the iPod speakers and listened to the Lion King musical cast recordings in three different languages (I adore the Lion King Broadway musical, and am currently collecting the cast recordings in as many languages as I can) for most of the painting process. My family is pretty good at leaving me alone when I'm painting, so I didn't have too many people barging in, but I'm perfectly capable of distracting myself! It was hard to focus on painting when I was in the middle of an interesting book (the disadvantage to working in my bedroom, where I dump all my library books).
What did you learn?
Well, I learned (for probably the sixth time or so) that it really isn't a good idea to wait until the last minute to start a painting. One of these days, I'll listen to my own advice and actually start early, for once. One of these days.
Time constraints aside, another challenge was the fact that my back's been kind of messed up ever since I was involved in a serious car crash (only two months after being in a similarly serious car crash). My mom took me to a massage therapist the day I started working on the painting, so I felt kind of weird and woozy for the rest of the day (and, though my legs were once again properly aligned, I was almost sorer than I was before the massage). I didn't want to mess up my back further, so the entire time I was making an effort to sit with good posture, which isn't very easy for me to do when I'm painting (or any time I'm not playing the piano, really).
Anyway, that was all rather stressful, but despite everything, I think the painting turned out pretty well. It's one of my best acrylics so far. I'm still not completely happy with the grass (which gave me a lot of grief near the start of the painting, and if I had had more time, I would've put more effort into it), but at least I managed to make it look vaguely like grass. Backgrounds have never been my strong point. If nothing else, I think it looks better than the vague green mass that I stuck behind my Eurasian Eagle Owl painting for last year's fair.
I'm quite happy with how the lion turned out, though. I figured out how to do realistic-looking whiskers (I think my favorite section of the painting is the muzzle area), and I was able to make the eye look nice, which was a bit tricky, since my reference photo hadn't caught the eye in a very flattering manner. Speaking of the reference, working from a small photo (4 x 6 inches, in this case) is kind of hard, but I think I'm getting better at it.
Step 1: I Should Probably Clean Up My Drawing Area. Actually, I Should Probably Clean My Whole Room...
Step 2: Painting the (argggh) Grass.
The photos have commentary, if you feel inclined to click them ...
Step 3: Fur Is So Much Easier Than Grass!
Again, click the pictures for commentary.
Step 4: Signatures. Are They Really Necessary?
Anyhow, I put together a little GIF animation showing the painting process from start to finish. It's a bit blurry, but I thought it was interesting see how it took shape over the course of the painting.
So, was all the stress and strain worth it? Well, I think so! My painting was well-received at the fair, earning a purple ribbon for Best of Class, as well as a cash prize. I put it up for sale, but I'm kind of hoping it doesn't sell--I've grown quite fond of it. Of course, getting money for my artwork is always nice, so I doubt I'll be complaining too much if it does end up selling!
As usual, check out my website to see more of my artwork. Also, if you've enjoyed (or been amused, at least) by my sleep-deprived ramblings, please feel free to vote for me in the Make-to-Learn Youth contest!