Hen harrier hunting grouse, natural history illustration -October 22nd 2012

Story posted: Monday, 22. October 2012 by Lizzie Harper

This week I very much enjoyed working on the landscape painting of a pair of hen harriers chasing down a red grouse:

Hen harrier pair hunting ored grouse over moor-land

 

The first step was combining all the elements into a decent composition.  This was complicated by the fact that the moor-land was based on a real location, Beacon Hill in Powys.  However, my lovely clients at Radnorshire Wildlife Trust (http://www.rwtwales.org/) were positive and speedy in their feedback.

Pencil rough of moor-land with hen harriers and grouse

Working on the final was wonderful, although I find painting heather (purple) into a generally grassy landscape (green) an ongoing challenge.  I tend to paint the landscape first, and then the animals at the end, rather like slotting them into a completed jigsaw.  Finally, one often has to smooth out the colour differences by putting a light wash (of yellow ochre, in this case) over the whole lot.  I’m pleased with the result, and am also pleased that I can paint just as well at 3am as I can during daylight hours.

Other work coming in has been possible interest from a Russian design company.

I’ve also been asked to take a workshop on drawing grasses with Ross Botanical Art Group; so have been out trying to see what’s still around.  I want to compare three very different species, and thus far have got samples of rye grass, cock’s-foot, and Yorkshire fog.  They’re all rather the worse for wear, and I’d like to source some wheat and brome too; so that might justify long autumnal wanderings in the fields.  I’ve started preparing a hand out on grasses anatomy, below is a grass "culm":

Diagnostic illustration of a grass culm

The dragonfly landscape has been tweaked and is now ready for colour.  In fact, it’s stretched on the board and I’ll get started on the sky (I always start with the sky) as soon as I’ve posted this.

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