Run, Owl!

The next part of the story was actually the first that I painted, even though it is in the middle of the tale. Whilst our mouse is trying to find his way home he is spotted by a Barn Owl and has to run for his life.

As usual the image is drawn out in watercolour pencil on the Bockingford paper.

bo1

I was worried about painting the wings, I had not tried before, so I worked on them first, if it didn’t work out it was then easier to start again, luckily it went ok. Most of the wings are white so what I actually had to paint were the shadows of where they overlapped and then just a few of the patterns that cross the feathers. Lastly the hint of the coloured feathers on the back that cover the wings when they are folded. I used salt on the wet paint to give the mottled effect and added some of the little black dots that cover the feathers.

bo2

Next, the shadows on the body and tail to give the owl a more three dimensional  appearance and the top of the head again with salt for the mottled effect. The eyes are dark and concentrate on the mouse and the claws are exaggerated to increase the awareness of the danger that our mouse is in. 

bo3

For the mouse I tweaked the perspective to emphasise the speed and the panic  as he tries to escape and made the rabbit small as he disappears into the background making his getaway.

bo4

And then the dandelions, I think I could paint them in my sleep now I have done so many but these were the first. 

bo5

Lastly the dots of light in the owls eyes, it makes all the difference.

So what happens next? Does he escape? Yes, of course he does, see how very soon.

 

 

 

Rabbit

Rabbit2sm

To continue with the Mouse story, we are following our mouse on his adventures as he tries to find his way home. This time he meets a rabbit happily eating away at the dandelions but not very forthcoming with information.

After drawing out the scene as usual in watercolour pencil my first problem was how to make the rabbit look fluffy.  So I worked on mixing the colour required choosing watercolours that tend to granulate, in this case yellow ochre with ultramarine,  a little coeruleum blue and a touch of Alizarin Crimson. The yellow ochre and the coeruleum being good for granulation if the mixture is right. I experimented with the mixtures until I found one that worked then damped the area to be painted and quickly applied the paint, then it had to be left to do its magic.

Rabbit close

Some of the paint separates and the heavier granules sink into the indents of the watercolour paper giving a soft textural effect and damping the paper meant that the paint would fill the area leaving soft edges.  I painted the rabbit first because that was the part of the painting that had the most chance of going wrong, they do sometimes, and if I had to start again I would not have lost to much work.

Rabbit1 sm

 

 

 

 

 

  Next the mouse and sketching in of the surroundings.                                                                                                 Rabbit3sm

Then as usual working top to bottom filling in the landscape. First, sky and distance.

Rabbit4sm

Note the hint of an owl in the sky in the distance, I try to leave clues in the pictures as to what might be happening next. Then the middle ground, trying to merge everything slowly into focus.

Rabbit5sm

Then the foreground with all the detail and the warmest colours.  Finally the finishing touches, the inside of the ear, details on the eyes and face and last of all the whiskers. 

I have not gone into any detail of the colour mixes in this picture as they have mostly been the same in the past paintings, any new colour mixes that I use in the future I will include in each new blog. 

Rabbit8sm

Any guesses what will be happening to our little mouse next?

‘Please, I want to go home’ said mouse.

It has been a long while since my last blog but sometimes life happens. So to continue my mouse story, this is where the mouse sets about trying to get home, he tries to talk to anyone he sees. As usual I transferred the design onto the watercolour paper using watercolour pencils. The mouse is stood in the field looking up at some birds on a wire, you may remember the starlings from a while back, well they are the upper half of this scene.

please-1sm.jpg

The mouse was painted first again using a mix of French Ultramarine with a little Alizarin Crimson and Yellow Ochre, doubling the layers for the darker areas. Then I gave the dandelion flowers a light yellow wash so that I didn’t lose them amongst the greenery and used a white wax crayon do draw little stars on the seed heads.

please-2sm.jpg

Next using a very watered down mix of the mouse colour I painted over the seed heads and dropped a touch of the stronger mix in the middle. The wax resist remains white and just hints at the little umbrellas attached to the seeds and the darker area in the middle is the old flower head. I mixed a basic paint for the leaves of French Ultramarine and Lemon Yellow and used this for the start of all the other greens adding either more Ultramarine or Lemon Yellow or Gamboge Hue, or Coeruleum blue and sometimes Alizarin. 

please-3sm.jpg

It is a long process building up all the layers of green but it is just a matter of filling them in and adding shadows. I used the white wax crayon again on the flowers, little dots and lines to represent the petals and then painted over with the Gamboge Hue.  The soil is little squiggles of various colours mixed with Alizarin or Yellow Ochre and tiny dots and splodges of greens for the smaller weeds and mosses, with added tiny pebbles. 

starmousecrop1am

The page in the book will have the starlings at the top so I have made a mock up of what I hope it will look like.

starmousetextsm

Mouse in the Country

Continuing with my mouse story this is where he finds himself after being brave enough to leave the safety of the hole in the wall, in a huge expanse of open countryside. Normally mice don’t have very good eye sight but for the sake of the story this mouse has amazing human like optical abilities.

Mousecountry1sm

As usual to begin I sketched out the basics with watercolour pencil. With the moors in the distance and just a hint of the sea on the left hand side.

Mousecountry2sm

Then working from the top down I painted the sky with Coeruleum blue and a touch of Alizarin Crimson, painting right down into the valley. I also used the blue to paint the sea, just hinting at the waves.  When the sky was dry,  I added a little more Alizarin and water to the mix and painted the moors in the distance, painting over the blue down into the valley. The closer hills were painted using a mix of the Coeruleum blue, Ultramarine and Gamboge yellow and a lot of water.

Mousecountry3sm

The other fields were painted using the same mix but also with touches of other colours added  into the wet paint to make each field slightly different. In the two ploughed fields I added Ultramarine and Yellow Ochre just as the paint was drying and applied it in straight lines to suggest the lines of the plough. The field boundaries where left to paint later to stop the different colours from bleeding into each other. The group of trees were painted using Ultramarine and Prussian Blue with a little Lemon Yellow and I used a little of each of the colours to paint the cliffs and rocks by the sea.

Mousecountry4sm

Using the same mixture that I used for the trees I made little marks on the moor to look like fields and trees in the distance. Then strengthening the mix I marked in the closer field boundaries, gradually adding Gamboge yellow the nearer I got to the front. I put a faint wash of yellow on the dandelion flowers so that I didn’t lose them amongst the green. The mouse is painted in the usual mix of Ultramarine, Alizarin and Yellow Ochre dabbing off a little underneath and at the front where the mouse is lighter. The tin building was painted with the sky colour and I used the mouse colour for the shadows. 

Mousecountry5sm

For the green plants at the front I used various shades of Ultramarine mixed with Gamboge yellow with occasional drops of Prussian Blue and Lemon Yellow. To make the group of trees more three dimensional I added water sparingly to the whole group and then dropped in a darker shade of the tree colour. The Dandelion flowers were painted with Gamboge Yellow and then when dry some of the paint was lifted off with a damp brush to form the petals. Colour was added to the mouse’s eye, feet and tail. A hint of buildings in the distance, another layer of the blue to the sea, the centre’s to the Dandelion clocks, a neutral tint to the road and it was done.

Mousecountry6sm

Next, Meeting the Locals

DSCF6843sm

To Catch a Mouse

Continuing the Mouse Story, the next two images are going to be small illustrations of how our mouse was caught.   Below are the initial sketches.

DSCF7473sm
Initial sketches

The first one was transferred onto watercolour paper, this is just of the trap and the mouse.

DSCF7632asm
Transferred onto watercolour paper

My first step was to get a little paint down to hint at the surroundings. This was a thin mix of Ultramarine and Gamboge yellow to represent the green carpet, and then Yellow Ochre, with a tiny touch of Cadmium Red and Ultramarine to make the amber colour of the trap. The amber mix was very thin so that I could build up layers of colour depending on how many walls of the trap were being looked through. 

DSCF7634sm
Getting some paint on the page

Next I added the basic mouse colour which is Ultramarine with Alizarin Crimson and a little Yellow Ochre.

DSCF7635sm
Basic mouse colour

Then a very thin mix of Alizarin Crimson and Gamboge for the fleshy parts of the mouse with some of the fur colour dotted onto the tail while it was wet to suggest a few hairs. I added the eye and the rubber bumper on the trap.

DSCF7637sm
Details

The shadows were next assuming the light was directly above.

DSCF7645sm
Shadow

And finally a few details like the little end of the pivot on the trap and whiskers on the mouse.

Whiskers

The mouse trap took quite a long time to get right, I had a lot of failed attempts, trying to get the angle right and to make it look interesting. Here are just a few.

DSCF7670sm

Then on to the next little illustration, this time with the mouse in the trap.

DSCF7632bsm
Transferred onto watercolour paper

As before the image was transferred onto the watercolour paper, Bockingford as usual.

 

DSCF7652sm
Basic mouse colour

I started the painting by filling in the body of the mouse, this time using a little more Yellow Ochre to give the mouse a slight tint of the amber colour that would have reflected on him as the light passed through the trap.

DSCF7653sm
Painting the trap

Next I painted the trap, again with the thin amber mix.

DSCF7655sm
Painting depth

I added more layers to show where less of the light got through and also the shadow to the breathing holes. The white plastic trap trigger was toned down with just the slightest hint of colour in clean water as the light shining through does this. I also painted his tail just as I did in the previous illustration and added shadow to the black bumper.

DSCF7657sm
Whiskers

Finally I added the whiskers.

 

Here are the final illustrations shot in a slightly better light.

 

DSCF7657sm (2)

Next time, freedom.

DSCF7470sm

 

In the Beginning

After a much longer break than anticipated I am back to the mouse book that I started quite a while back. Below are my sketches for the first two images, as I mentioned in my blog back in April,   https://wp.me/p7Ohdq-j7  ,   the story is about a mouse’s adventures after he is caught and removed from the house.

The first painting is of the mouse in the boiler cupboard, it seems to be one of their favourite places, we even found a shrew in there once which was very vocal about being removed.

As usual I drew out the image on Bockingford paper with a pale purple watercolour pencil so that it washes away once the paint is added.

DSCF6944sm

As the cupboard is dark I mixed Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson and Lemon Yellow watercolour  to make a dark grey to paint the inside shadowy areas and the back of the door. To contrast the inside with with the outside I used a mixture of Lemon Yellow and Gamboge Hue to represent the light from the room outside. Once dry, I painted another layer of the grey to increase the depth of the shadows inside the cupboard.  The old piece of paper on the back of the door was painted with Yellow Ochre and a little touch of  Ultramarine.

Next was the pipework which was painted using Cadmium Red, Ultramarine and Gamboge Hue,  to make a dark coppery colour and for the joints I added extra Gaboge Hue for a lighter brassy look. The shadows were added using more of the grey mixture. For the mouse I used Ultramarine, a small amount of Alizarin Crimson and Yellow Ochre which tends to granulate and gives a nice texture for the fur, and I dabbed off with tissue for the lighter areas. The mouse’s shadow was painted using the same grey as the inside of the cupboard and for the mousetrap I used a watered down version of the pipework mixture. Finally I added the little details and shadows and used a black watercolour pencil on the eye and around the joints of the pipes.

The second image is the same scene looked at from the outside of the cupboard, so the room is painted with the mixture of Lemon Yellow and Gamboge Hue and the dark cupboard with the grey mix. The rest was just adding a few details to the room with the mouse trap and the jar of peanut butter to hint at what the smell was that brought the mouse out of the safety of the cupboard.  This image also expresses just how small the little mouse was out in the big wide world.

Here are the two finished paintings, the start of the story where the mouse is tempted out and gets caught in the trap.

And here are the sketches for the next two images where the mouse travels in the trap and is released.

The Mouse Story.

For some time now a story I started about a mouse has been in limbo while other things were worked on. So now I am determined to complete my little book and thought that It would be interesting to share the process, it might take a while so here goes.

We sometimes have a problem with mice in the house, so we have  humane mousetraps permanently set up in a few places where  mice have been caught before, I check them every morning just in case we have had a visitor.  There have not been any so far this year but in previous years we have caught quite a few. When we do catch one we take it up the road away from houses and release it into a hedge. The mice usually bound away but occasionally they have to be coaxed out and sometimes they run into the shadow of the person releasing them. As a family we have talked about what we think that the mice might get up to once they are released and what adventures they may have,  so it occurred to me that these ideas would work nicely as a picture book.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some of these photos are a little blurry, the mouse moves fast!

So my story is about a mouse that we caught in the house and then released up the road and all of his adventures until he finds his way back to the house again.  I have done some of the work a little while back so much of the research has been done and some drawings and even a few paintings but I will try to work  chronologically so the story can be followed as it grows.

 

 

Lots of mice were drawn

 

 

 

And some painted.

Over the next few weeks I will be working on the start of the story, I have rough sketches drawn and now I need to translate them into finished scenes.

 

 

Rough Sketches 1 and 2 waiting to be transformed into finished pages.