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Let's Paint Bats!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Last January, I got a commission for a painting of big brown bats. That doesn't happen very often, or, never. Who wants bats? I do, and maybe one or two other people I can think of. I was excited. Not least because it was for my friend Kristen from Wheeling and she is awesome. Her mother Debbie is, too. Knew that a Zick painting of bats would make Kristen's canary chirp. She also bought a copy of The Bluebird Effect. It was going to be a totally Zick birthday.

I knew Kris, being a naturalist, would like a sketchbook treatment, so I drew some bats in a bunch of poses, with details that grabbed me.

Little wing-tail membranes, where and how it all connects, things like that. When I have a bat I just want to unfold it and examine it. But they tend not to like that very much. They cuss something awful. 

There are tons of tiny crenulations and wrinkles in the membranes when they're folded. They expand enormously in flight and in use. Membranes, marvelous membranes.

But how to make the bats look as impossibly soft as they are? Water. 
First, I flooded the fur area with water.
Just carried it over on a brush and pumped it onto the drawing.

Then, I got the brush loaded with a thick strong dose of burnt sienna and a touch of quinacridone gold (I use Daniel Smith watercolors, fabulous and more affordable than others)  and touched that to the pool of water.

C'est voila. It spread with a feathery edge. Fur.

It's important to vary the colors within the area so it doesn't look boring or flat. Feed some blues into them. And it's very important to keep your brush tip well away from the edge of the water pool you created in the first step. You must let the paint make its own edge by diffusing into that pool. That's what makes it look furry. If you try to create a furry edge with your brush, it looks fake. Just feed the pigment in and let it spread where it will, out to the very edge of the water you laid down.

It's fun.

It's also fun to rinse your brush, dry it on a tissue, and then suck some of that color back out to make highlights. See the pale trace behind the brush tip? I'm dragging pigment back out.

It never looks quite as soft after it dries, but it looks pretty good.

 Here's another bat, dried.

 I painted these from photos I took of Dee Dee and Darryl, my starter bats. The first ones I took care of, and still living in my heart. Darryl's gone, but Dee Dee lives with a rehabilitator in northeast Ohio now.

The finished painting. Debbie and Kiki liked it! I love painting things for friends.


Is it impossible for you to ever write a less-than-wonderful post?

And sometimes I think I learn a new word in every Zick post: "crenulations"... luv it!

wow. Just like when I watch the ice skaters, and anyone else talented- things look easy and I think to myself, I would love to be able to do that. I do however realize that I lack the talent. (Maybe I could make the furry bit.)

What a wonderful gift! The art and the artist! To have the ability and willingness to share. I am happy to be the on the receiving end- The consuming end-well someone has to do that, right?

They're awesome :o)

How amazing to see how you did the bat painting for Kristen! It was indeed a totally Zick birthday - she loved it, and I loved making her happy (thanks to you, of course!!)

A sigh/sob combo. Beautiful.xxoom

Beautiful, do you publish or produce cards?

These drawings are so cool.

My,oh my! What beautiful paintings of one of my favorite creatures!Your talent and the joy you express as you exercise it are amazing.

So cool! Thanks for sharing :-)

I love, love, love this!!!

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