Monday, March 2, 2015

Conspiracy of Ravens - A Process Blog

Conspiracy of Ravens
19 x 44 Mixed Media on Canvas

First there was this horse painting I did on commission. Subject, size and date of completion were of the primary importance so I ordered stretcher bars.  Two sets of the 19 x 44 because if things can go wrong they will go wrong. Especially with deadlines, and longer stretcher bars can warp. They didn't. The commission was completed without a glitch and I was left with an extra set of 19 x 44 stretcher bars. And a complete boredom with mustang paintings for the moment. So I began looking for another subject for this off standard size.

I have been wanting to do a raven painting but it frankly did not make sense to begin with such a large canvas for an untried subject. Ravens are not everyone's cup of tea and they're black. I decided I could bring color into the composition by placing the ravens in front of a Painted Desert landscape. Or Monument Valley. Or Arches. I settled on Landscape Arch and began drawing. Like with my paintings of horses I had been sketching individual ravens for some time. I only had to pick the ones I wanted to use and place them around on a sketch of Landscape Arch and then trace them as a whole.

Sketch for Conspiracy of Ravens transferred to canvas

I was very pleased with the drawing, and who says ravens have to be black. In the desert sun they seem almost iridescent. Throwing caution to the wind I stretched the canvas and began work. One of the nice aspects of stretching your own canvas is if it does not work out you remove the offending effort and stretch new canvas.

Yellow sky poured and orange sun floated in

If ravens do not have to be black and then skies do not have to be blue. Or suns yellow.

Laying in tones with three colors of India Ink.

Nor do arches have to be sandstone colored.  After the basic colors for the background was laid in I defined the ravens with black India Ink. The ravens are by the way making a pile of colored stones. They do happen to like to play with pebbles and shiny objects. And actually drop golf balls from the course three miles away into my backyard.

Two of four ravens painted in

In my mustang paintings every wild horse has different coloring but I could not see that working with ravens. I was asking enough that they were Cobalt Violet, Payne's grey and Ultramarine blue rather than black.  I did not have four legs and wild manes and tails to define character. It was going to have to be done with cock of head and beaks.

Wrong colors as the background fights with my stars
At this stage I was rather pleased basically with my ravens but unhappy with their environment. Too many values too close. I spent one snowed in day changing colors of the landscape.

Ready for detailing and refining

More green was added as a cooling influence and the purples in the background went magenta. I was ready to add details. Conspiracy of Ravens is quite a departure for me. One I totally enjoyed. And yes, there will no doubt be more ravens as main subjects. My day paintings usually have ravens or a murder of crows in the sky. This one doesn't. And desert scenes often have a stream in them as a prayer for water. I think the abundance of green takes that place in this composition.

1 comment:

  1. I love how vibrant your palette is. I follow your blog via RSS and it would make me so happy if you visited my blog as well at



I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.