As I have said before, inspiration arrives in the strangest of ways. We visited Exmoor Zoo a while back and that is where we met this chap. He had flown down off a roof into the meerkat enclosure and was causing chaos. The adult meerkats had gone into full ‘repel the invader’ mode and the young pups were joining in. The peacocks feathers were raised, although he did not have the full display, and he stood defiantly as the incensed meerkats darted back and forth trying to scare him off. He, looking like a prima ballerina, stretched out that long neck and jabbed at them with his sharp beak. There was a stand-off until a keeper eventually persuaded the peacock to leave. So the haughty peacock and his obvious divine right to be where ever he wanted just had to be a subject to be painted.
Photographs by Chris Pointer
As usual the image was first sketched out using watercolour pencil.
The neck and chest were painted very wet to keep the edges soft, I used a mixture of Prussian Blue, Ultramarine, Lemon Yellow and a very dilute Purple Lake with Rose Madder to give a hint of colour on the head.
Salt was added to the wet paint in places to give the feathers a fluffy look and I filled in the details of the head with more solid painting to emphasize the details of the eye and the beak.
The tail feathers took much longer because they need to be painted individually and left to dry before a neighbouring one is painted so that they don’t bleed into each other. Cobalt Blue was added to the palette to add a contrast to the mass of feathers. The feathers at the front are in stronger colours than those further back to create a feeling of depth.
I think that at some point in the future I must paint the meerkats and their valiant attempt to defend their territory.
Truly beautiful, years ago I visited Paignton Zoological gardens and got a wonderful photograph of a peacock spreading its tail and walking straight into the camera. I am getting a years pass to the breeding zoo below where I live. That way I shall be able to get inspiration for the birds and other animals.
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