Dirty Birds – Oil Painting

Dirty Birds – 12×9 oil on gessoed board.

Dirty Birds by Winifred

  There is always a challenge in painting. There were so many decisions with respect to design, values, color and chroma. I still see changes I will likely make. There were many elements in the photo reference which I ultimately eliminated for design and simplicity sake.  The photo which inspired this painting was taken in Guatemala by photographers Daphne and Art Carlye who often work summers with Rotary International.  There were lovely palm trees in the background which ultimately I ignored.

Below – initial tonal sketch 

Below – INITIAL PAINTING – Too much detail – No place to focus. No place to rest ones eyes – though there are some aspects of this image I like. In my initial painting I found my eyes darting all over the place – not a good sign.  Everything is foreground and everything was the same levels of saturation and contrast. I know better than to do that. I scraped the paint off the background and made changes to design and expression.  

Below: This version is not too bad and I rather like it but I decided to push the background  back even more by simplifying  it –  and muting the colors, thus arriving at the final version at the top of the page. I may have made a mistake in that regard – but, I share my mistakes with you as well.  

What do you think? Which image do you prefer and why?

  • Lois Kane

    I like the final version because it does let the main subject stand out. But I also like the next-to-last because it is more cheerie. I would have enjoyed seeing the reference photo.

    • Winifred Whitfield

      Hi Lois, For some reason, I’m just seeing your comments. Thank you for doing so. I certainly did not intend to ignore you. I often like to see photo references as well. Once in a while I post a reference as I did in Three Friends Walking. Most of the time, I probably will not – there is a reason. When I use to create digital paintings, I did so more so because there are so many ways these paintings can be done. Particularly with my students, I wanted to see their photo, so I could better assess what they were doing.

      This is traditional oil however, I do not particularly want to set up the situation where you are going back and forth looking for what I changes, what I added, how the colors were changed. That’s for digital – in my opinion. Because, the fact is I am drawing and creating an original painting. I am always altering the photo and the fact is, it has to stand on it’s on – no matter what the photo looks like. The painting works or it does not. But one thing for sure, there is no cloning or blending painting or any of the shortcuts which are possible in digital – though for the most part, I did this consistently in digital as well and for the most part, painted from imagination – no photo reference.

      I am curious, since you requested a reference photo twice – why do you want to see the photo? How do you think it would help you to show you the reference? With my painting “three friends walking” the reference was posted? Is it just curiosity? How often do you see traditional oil painters show reference photos? I actually think it is pretty unusual – though I do know people would like to see them. Soon I will begin painting from imagination – no photos!!. I really love painting from imagination. Thank you for sharing my journey. I do appreciate it. Winifred