Tackling something new !

Tackling something new !

Sitting in my studio, looking out at the grey foggy weather, I must admit I am finding it difficult to be inspired.The snow drops are appearing but they aren't ready yet! Light levels are low and the predominant colour is grey. So what to paint?

I was sent an email, had I ever painted an orangutan? Well you don't see too many of them in Mid Devon, and no I haven't ever painted an orangutan so I thought , why not ?I'd give it a go, and explain to you how I tackle something I have never tried before.

Firstly a new subject , isn't completely new, see what you can use from previous experience and bring that to to painting. Be prepared for things to go wrong , remember this is your first go be gentle on yourself, and have another go if you need to.

Firstly I found a royalty free photo and sketched him out


Then I started where I am comfortable, his eyes. I like the eyes to be precise, I love to paint them. ( There are several blogs on here about eyes, have a look through if it helps. ) 

I am using yellows and oranges and dark browns for the pupil, remember to let the white of the paper act as your white, the light in the eye.

I had decided to work outwards from the eyes, getting looser and looser as I went

So I concentrated on the skin around the eyes, and placing them securely in the face.

Now to paint the face, I decided to keep to something I know, and to keep things simple, I love to work wit cadmium red and blue to create a shadowy colour, so I used these with cerulean blue to build up the contours in his face.

Make sure you go really dark on the nostrils and the mouth. By using contrast you build up interest.

Now the fur, and what a treat to be able to use bright orange, sepia, red browns, yellows on such a dull day.

 I went very loose and quite mad, go for it ( if you want a loose painting)


I spattered and splashed, but also kept notice of where I wanted tonal difference, this is fun, but also tricky and very difficult to explain

. Be as bold as you dare.


Finally I got bolder with the colours and decided to use some cling film for texture. Now if you do this lay it flat on the wet paint and leave it (over night if possible) it takes a while to dry and if you mess with it you may well spoil it. Be patient.

The next morning I took of the cling film and my first ever orangutan appeared from the mist


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Great Rachel, wonderful to have a new challenge and enthusiasm to have a go!
Great colours! Love it, as you say the eyes are all important. Brilliant


Fabulous! I recently discovered you. Your blogs are so helpful and inspiring. Thank you, thank you, thank you❤ Now I need to wet my brush much more often.

Mary Lou Holst

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