Heron Lift Off


I’ve been mentioning a big commission that I’ve been working on since late November. Finally this past Sunday I put the finishing touches on it and am ready to share it with you. The client’s idea was to show four stages of a great blue heron lifting into flight, all on one canvas. He wanted the birds to be large enough to see detail and yet small enough so they didn’t look crowded.

First I’ll share a slide show that of the painting in progress:

As you can see, I started with a warm underpainting that would unite all that came after. I painted in the subsequent layers as energetically and freely as I could, only gradually bringing in closer attention to detail. By the second image, I began laying in the sky and the darkest shadows of the mangroves behind the herons. Lighter colored vegetation is layered on top of this as you come forward. There were times when I wished I’d started a bit more mathematically, as I was honestly in suspense the whole time as to whether all four birds would fit on the canvas. It is a large painting, 48″x30″. Steve, I’ll bet you would have measured and calculated how large each one needed to be and drawn them in with pencil first! :). But that isn’t me. I’m a jump in with both feet and figure it out as I go kind of artist.

And here is the finished piece:

My friend and client is happy with it, so I’ll be varnishing it today and then shipping it off. It has been a huge undertaking but I’m really pleased with the results.

Published by melissabluefineart

visit me at www.melissabluefineart.com to see my original paintings available for sale.

19 thoughts on “Heron Lift Off

  1. Nicely done. Carpenters say “Measure twice, cut once,” and maybe there’s a similar adage for painters. Even if there is, from what you’ve said you’d have jumped in with both feet anyway. That approach seems to have stood you in good stead—unless there have been times when it led you to an edge too quickly and you had to redo a painting.

    This painting reminds me of some works by Escher, except in those one sort of thing gets turned into another, while here all the components are different poses of the same subject.

    1. Thank you.
      Yes, and I think they also have the corollary “Measure once, curse twice”. You’re right, I’ve been doing things this way for so long I couldn’t change now even if I wanted to and yes, it does sometimes yield clunkers.
      Escher’s work is fascinating.

  2. It’s lovely, Melissa, and so interesting to see the steps you took to create it. My camera once accidently caught a great blue heron in the third position of the one in your painting. Yours looks exactly like it. 🙂 Do you find it easy to fulfill specific requests from your clients?

  3. Thank you, Barbara! That is so cool that your camera caught the heron in that position! I’ve struggled, and mostly failed, to capture birds in flight.
    It isn’t easy to do, but I do find it rewarding to do commissions although I’ve learned to gently say, “only nature and landscapes, please.”

  4. I loved seeing your progression especially how you started with the red tones. The mystery of what lies underneath a beautiful painting is revealed. Wonderful end result, Melissa.

    1. Thank you, Jane! We painters just do what we do, and it is fun to think people might want a peek behind the curtain, so to speak. I’m so glad you liked it.

  5. Hi Melissa, wordpress mysteriously unfollowed me from your marvellous blog (its done that before and it it takes me a while to realise that it happens). So I have some catching up to do.

  6. Hi Emma,
    Wordpress was giving me so much trouble that I finally gave up my blog altogether. One of the things they did was stop letting me comment on my favorite blogs. I could read your wonderful posts, but I could not comment! 😦 That is why I have disappeared. I am so pleased to see the successes you are achieving. Good for you! I know you work very hard and you deserve it!

    Best wishes,
    Melissa

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