Monday, August 05, 2013

Blue-Crowned Motmot

"Coraciiformes Momotidae Momotus momota, or Blue-Crowned Motmot"
12 x 16 inches
Oils on canvas

This is pretty much one of my favorite birds to visit at the "Bird World" pavilion at the Denver Zoo. He is a VERY good model as he tends to sit still, and has a most elegant tail.  I'd been meaning to paint him for some time, but something else always seemed to come up.  So when I realized I suddenly had two free days in my schedule last week, I got my sketches and color references together and was like, "Right! I'm painting the motmot!"

I'd thought of doing him in watercolors, but somehow I felt he needed a bolder, more vibrant look; so I risked painting him in oils.  I say "risk", as I feel that I've still a way to go before I've mastered the medium, and because I was attempting the direct method, a.k.a. alla prima, which means to paint in one go (as opposed to slowly building up transparent layers, which can take weeks or even months).  So far alla prima has been my preferred way to paint oils, but it can pose some difficulties, especially when dealing with small areas that require fine detail, like eyes and beaks.  As in watercolor, you pretty much have a single opportunity to lay the paint down right; if you mess up and re-do it, the pigments get all muddled and it's hard to get that freshness back, no matter how hard you try.

Happily, I overcame my innate sense of risk-adversion and I am pleased to have captured a semblance of the esteemed Mr. Motmot.  


Sarah Melling said...

This is gorgeous. Funny that you discuss your decision to use oils, as one of my first thoughts was wondering what medium this is. You've achieved such a light yet vibrant look to everything...really beautiful!

Laura G. Young said...

Thanks so much, Sarah! Speaking from my own limited experience, I think alla prima is the best way to keep oil subjects looking lively; your comment really made me feel like I'm on my way to accomplishing this lofty goal.

Thanks again,


Anonymous said...

The eyes are amazing, as is his whole physical appearance.....sigh