Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Opossum Body Work

Finally, I am beginning the body of this little guy! I must say these pics are my two favorite areas. One of my fascinations in life is little critter hands. It all began when I purchased my first hamster. I was amazed how those perfect little hands functioned so well at such a wee size. Have you ever really watched one eat? It is a wonder to think how small the little bones and muscles must be in their hands! It's miraculous really. Of course this point was not lost on the other animals that have wandered in and out of my life. (My husband works part time in the forestry field which has brought owls, squirrels, raccoons, and various insects in to touch our lives.) The eyes are the window to the soul in humans and in animals. Animal eyes have always interested me with their intensity and depth. I think they are much easier to translate to paper than the human eye. I love the variety of shapes.

The 2b pencil seems to be giving me a lot of depth. I have always seen everything in life as shadows. (Is this good or bad? I do not know, but it seems to translate for me.) I mapped out the fur with darks and lights. The darks took quite a few more layers, so I helped out a little with Grumbacher 2b solid graphite pencil to eliminate lines. I used a stump to blend the values. Then went in with my kneaded eraser and Sanford pink pearl eraser stick to lighten areas and draw in hair. This seemed to work well and created the rough fur that I wanted to see. The tail was a bit of a challenge to make it look cylindrical, but it seems to be coming around. Sometimes I find it harder to work softer shades. The skin of the hands and the feet were only blended slightly with a tortillion. I like a more mottled look. The shadows of any piece make themselves into a map. I find if I stick with only seeing the shadows the hands magically pop out and create a 3d effect.

The work on the eye was done in a separate sitting. I probably should have finished the rest of the body, but I was anxious to take a whirl on creating that beautiful bulge and amazing highlights that dark animal eyes always seem to capture. Since it has been so long, I also figured if I wasn't successful, now would be the time to find out! So much light hair in the surrounding area!! But it seemed to go well, sometimes I needed just the dirty tortillion to make the hair appear. I do like the effect of drawing with a blending stick. The eye had so many tiny details which made using a mechanical pencil a great asset as long as I kept it rotated to get the sharp edge. The tiniest highlights I tried my best to not hit with the graphite. The click white eraser stick seemed to work well to erase graphite in a precise matter, especially when working with such a heavy amount of graphite. It was also amazing for putting in those clear little whiskers! I then came back in with pencil and stump to create the shadow under them.
I probably should talk about the bark. Bark is one of those relaxing things to create! It (like fur) is just like working a jig saw puzzle. Just drop in the shadows and blend. I then can go back in and darken the areas as needed and take the erasers and make the highlights pop. Since this piece lacks intense light, there really isn't a need to pull much graphite. Sometimes I have to blend back over areas in the bark and the fur, this is in an attempt to make the values balance themselves. I love the fork in the bottom of the branch he is climbing. I would love to go crazy detailing the bark but do not want to detract from the little guy!

I hope to finish this piece in the next few days. The right side of the background is considerably lighter and should not take as long. I blanket the drawing with spare paper when working. It is so fun at the end of a session to pull them off and see the total piece. By the way, I should say that this work it taped off to the size of 14 1/2 x 16 inches. It is kind of an odd size on the board, but I think it suits the subject!


Bev said...

This is looking good Brenda. I will watch with interest. I agree with you on the wonderful diversity of the animal kingdom. I used to keep pet mice and rats as a child (amongst other types of pets) and I remember being fascinated by the dexterity of their little hands when handling their food.

Gary Keimig said...

Will be interesting to see the finished painting.
You and Bev are right about our wonderful world of nature and the animals we are so priveleged to live with. They have certainly been my life long interest.
God bless and HAPPY NEW YEAR