Friday, February 4, 2011

As Promised, a How-To on painting the "Rabbit Pointing at the Moon"

Here is where it started, an idea. With the Year of the Rabbit  here it was a perfect excuse to paint a wise wabbit. I love rabbits, what can I say. It's Bugs Bunny meets Zen.  And then there's the moon, a full moon, water, mountains in the background. Let the magic begin! 

So I quickly sketched it out, on notebook paper (okay, it was the closest paper and when an idea strikes you just gotta get it down). It needed to be enlarged, slightly. For this I scanned it then increased the size in photoshop then output it from my printer. 

I then conte the back of the image I am going to transfer onto the gessoed hard panel. I want to illustrate this image without a canvas texture behind it.

Here's the panel sans canvas. Quadruple gessoed hard board. Like snow on an open field, just smaller.

I tape the image over the panel, making sure it is centered properly.

Here I have traced over the image with an HB sharp pencil. I realized I had forgotten to place a shadow in front of the wabbit. I just note it so that I will do it on the final.

Here's the image transferred. Hilarious that I missed the hand that has the finger pointing at the moon. Not to worry though, I just wing it from the original when I do the final.

I tape the hardboard to a larger stretched canvas so I can lift it off the easel without fussing with the edges. I keep the original near by for reference. 

Time to figure out the colour palette. I decide on a split complementary palette combined with mother color theory again. I use titanium white with cadmium yellow light for the mother color, both Golden brand acrylic paint. 

Then I sketch out the little guy. I recognize after doing this rough sketch that the moon looks much better as I do it here rather than being a whole full moon higher in the sky. A friend actually pointed out that they like the sketch better than the original pencil drawing. They were right! I find it is always helpful to stay flexible in the process because you never know when you will find something brilliant along the way. 

Here's the palette: 
Cadmium Yellow Light - Golden 
Permanent Rose - Winsor Newton
 Permanent Alizarin Crimson - Winsor Newton
Alizarin Crimson Hue - Golden
Cerulean and Manganese blue (not used)
Ultramarine Blue - Winsor Newton
Ultramarine Blue - Golden
Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber and Ivory Black (not used)
Titanium White: Golden

I did other colour palette schemes but settled on the violet/yellow split complementary as it suited the mood best of what I wanted the image to convey.

And again, here is the final. I am sorry but I could not stop every so often to take shots in progress as I just had to keep moving. It was like a dance, painting this image. Acrylics dry fast so you have to work fast. I love how the water turned out, and the moon, sky and stars. You'll notice I changed the rabbit to a female as noting that in eastern astrology, the rabbit is a feminine (yin) sign. I reduced the size of her neck and shoulders and that did it. Also her feet aren't showing - that is because I thought a robe would be more appropriate. Her necklace is a glowing moon pendant. I love her ears, her eyes and the peaceful non-judgemental expression as she points the way while sitting contentedly in the middle of a lake. This painting is just, well, magic!

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