What You May Find

The premise of this painting is simple enough: a fantasy creature of some kind has made a home at the bottom of a small waterfall.

The initial plan, on sitting down and wondering what the next painting will be (again, at the the last minute), was to do another fantasy picture.  Okay, yes, my last completed one was "Mountain village" but although that village doesn't exist, it is not quite fantasy.  My first thoughts were: another dragon picture.  This may have been influenced by a new duvet cover which is a superb stream-punk version of a dragon.  After a few ideas were mulled over, I got distracted and switched to a goblin-like figure.  When it comes to goblins/elves/faeries there are a limited number of cliches to delve:

  • warrior creatures in bleak and basted landscaped with lightning reflecting off scales and stuff
  • shiny, vaporous sprites that drift through idyllic scenery
  • more recently of course Harry Potter provides a domesticated context that could do with a bit exploring

So naturally I'm doing something else.  I like taking the unusual and contrasting it with the ordinary.  However, I'm not going down the Harry Potter route, but letting my creature belong in its own space, where we might stumble over it if we were but quiet enough and a bit patient.  So, I'm thinking of a comfy hole in the woods, a nice splashing stream, nobody around... except for my goblin-like figure.  I wanted the figure in the stream, but it took me a little while to work out what he would be doing there.  It turns out that he's filling a kettle.  Ha, I have my plan.

How to approach this?  In contrast to my last painting, I want a naturalistic treatment.  The image I have in my head could be photographic in presentation, as if I've copied faithfully from a lucky snap.  That is not to say this is meant to be photo-realistic.  I am not going to get the details true to real life.  I want the overall impression to be that of a photograph.  That way, the main fantasy figure should merge with the reality to make it mistakable with a wildlife documentary.  That's easy to say, but tricky to do.  This one should stretch me a bit.


Oil on canvas as I tend to do nowadays.  So I start out with a few positional marks, just to arrange the space a bit.  I then put in the creature in outline.  This is not meant to be realistic, so when my wife makes a comment about it being a bit 'Blue Peter', i.e. something that a child might have done, that doesn't get to me.  That's her problem, not mine.

Here's the painting plan: drops blobs of paint where they seem to want to go until the basic shape of the painting takes form.  This is what I did with A Mountain Stream and I enjoyed painting that.


It's not perfect, but it is a promising start.  It that almost-got-depth feel that I need it to have.  However, it is speaking of painting rather than photograph, so next I have to develop it to fit the image in my head.  Only once that feels right can I start developing some of the detail.  Note that I am not even attempting the goblin figure let: it is the hardest part of the painting and it needs to blend in with the environment.  So I'm getting the environment right first so that I do not need repaint the figure.

At the moment I am not getting that photo-feel.  Not quite.  Those greens around the edges are problematic: I am missing the outer context.  Maybe I should crowd the left and right in a bit?  The high contrast is nice, but overdone?  My initial image has faded a bit.


For the sake of something to do, I started on the water falls.  Yes, on the whole you avoid light colours with oils until last.  However, I can't really see the composition properly with an essential piece missing.  I've painted the water in with a minimum amount of paint, just to give an impression.  The detail will wait until later.  I have also lightened some the rocks and reworked the messy right hand side.  Overall the contrast has dropped considerably, possibly too far!  I need to take more care over the shadows and my light source (on the left).  So next I need to put in shadows on the left to regain some of that contrast.  I really need to do this before detail sucks me in a prevents big changes.  On the plus side, I redid the stones that make up the entrance to the home.  I made these a cross between steps and random slabs.  I say on the plus side because they by a fluke capture the feel that I want for the whole.  So if I make everything else fit in with those steps, this might yet work.



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What You May Find, Part II

A bit of a gap since I was last painting.  I had a week off, which ought to have resulted in more work, not less. What You May Find Page ...