See how the squirrel painting is done from start-to-finish with Dan Waltz.

How to paint a Squirrel Demo by Artist Dan Waltz

Have you ever wondered how a painting is done? Are you a budding artist looking for tips? Look no further.

 

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I'm really looking forward to this painting. We've been feeding this family of squirrels for 9 or so years now. They come to our front door for treats. If we're not there with a peanut butter cookie in hand, they come to the window and look in to see if we're home. Nutter Butter cookies are by far their favorite, but before you start lining up at my door do to the economic conditions we've had to cut back to a generic brand, not nearly as tasty. The squirrels don't seem to mind, they keep coming back for more.

 

I first would like to share with you the photos that inspired the painting you are about to witness being created and a very short video of the squirrel in the window.


Early layouts.

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Final Layout!

I first combined several photos I took and created an image in photoshop that I would like to paint. The first photo was the one of the squirrel looking in at me, then one of my window and a seperate one of the curtain. I accually layed this out severall different ways before coming up with the final (above).

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After creating the image in photoshop I then line it out, drawing only the important lines to be used as guide lines during painting process.

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I then trace the lines over again, but this time I have a sheet of graphite paper between the sheet of paper that the drawing is on and the watercolor board that I'm trancfering the lines over to.

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Now all the lines I need are tranfered onto the board and I'm now ready to paint. Or am I? Do to how complicated this piece is a lot of thought and care must now be taken in just how the painting needs to be painted and in what order to paint it in. It looks to me that the first thing that I need to do is to paint the background. To do this I must cut some masks and block out certain areas before I can acually start laying down paint. falcon1
I cover the whole image with contact paper (clear) and lightly cut the windows out of the contact sheet leaving everything else covered. I then cut out the shape of the squirrel from a heavy weight sheet of paper and hinge the cutout over the squirrel on the board. I used paper and hinged it so I have a nice soft painting edge to work with. The contact paper once removed will leave me a nice hard edge to work with which is great for the windows, but not so much for the hair on the squirrel.

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I then spray Blue, Green, Black, Brownm and White through the airbrush to get the out of focus wintery effect that I want for the background. Now it's time to paint the squirrel.

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Just starting to rough the squirrel in with watercolors. Notice I still have the contact paper in place keeping everything else covered. I need to be completely done with the squirrel and the background before I remove it. This is one of the first time that my subject matter is is part of a background. Usually my subject is the last thing that gets painted because they usually are well in the foreground.

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Remember at the beginning I told you that there was a certain order that I must follow to complete this painting? Well here I am working on the squirrel thinking to myself "self, what are you doing, the background behind the squirrel isn't done yet. You forgot the snow." So I convered the squirrel back up and grabbed a toothbrush, not mine of coarse, and started flicking white paint off the bristles of the toothbrush so that random sized drops land where ever they pleased, with some control or I couldn't sign my name to it. Now back to working on the squirrel.

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The squirrel is pretty much roughed in. Very rough for the most part, but is shaping up pretty well. Hoping to get the squirrel and everything behind the glass finished tomorrow, but I have a busy day, we will have to wait and see.

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Still working on the squirrel. I will be for a while. It's very important to be as accurate as you can with the direction of the hair.

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I didn't get as far as I would have liked, but the squirrel is pretty much done and I pealed away a stip of the mask revealing the white board below. This is part of the window (the outside storm) which needs to be painted next, because it too is behind the glass. Once that is done, I then will cut another mask (frisket) out of heavy weight paper and cover everthing up except for the area that I need to paint, which will be the frost on the bottom edge of the glass.

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Using a couple of straight pieces of card board I blocked everything off except for the storm window and airbrushed some shading and straight lines . I then cut another piece of card board the shape of the fogged or frosted glass area and airbrushed the frost on the window, covering the bottom of the squirrel, yet light enough that you can still see the squirrel. I then took all the masking off the painting revealing the lines and a very clean painting surfase underneath. I now will start painting the window frame.

 

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See how it's done...Step-by-step, from start-to-finish.

Art Demonstrations by Dan Waltz!


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