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More Grebe Apocalypse

Monday, October 23, 2006

It's done, I think. Although I toned down the highlights on the bird's breast after this picture was taken. Truth is, it'll probably never be done; I'll just have to quit at some point. In response to Carolyn's question, I double-checked on those images of firefighting planes, and I can't quite see how they take on water. There's no visible bucket on the undercarriage. I think it involves doors that open up as they skim over the water. This one has just gotten a load, closed its doors, and is dribbling a bit. There is no grebe in the water tank. Our hero is celebrating that fact.

Back to the story to be illustrated. There's this baby western grebe, see? And the first thing that happens to it is an otter tries to eat it. Cool. I like otters. So I painted that scene. Pretty straightforward. No masking or lurid colors. I tried to make the otter look more disappointed than menacing, but I made the daddy bird look pretty pissed off. He's wearing his Napoleon Bonaparte-style hat of fury. If his bill appears bent it's something that happened in the translation from Flickr to Blogger. Blogger is still not working for me. Booooring.I think a lot as I paint this stuff. It seems to me that if an otter even wanted to eat a western grebe, it could annihilate one in a couple of seconds. Those mustelids don't fool around.

Down, Zick. You're just the illustrator here. Always a problem. I can't shut myself up.

The second painting was to be of the baby western grebe, grown up now, caught in a hailstorm! Zoiks! I like painting underwater scenes. This one was pure fun. Lots of masking film and liquid masking compound involved. Salt, too, for the underwater sparkles, sprinkled into the wet blue wash. Here's the grebe and the hailstones, masked out with film and liquid masking compound. I've painted the dark wash right over them, and sprinkled salt into it to make sparkles and bubbles. I found a very cool film taken in Monterey, of a WEGR rowing by the camera in an underwater canyon, its feet pumping like crazy fans out to each side. I suspect it was made at the Monterey Aquarium. Wherever it was made, it was priceless to me. Oh, I love my job. Here , I've peeled off the masking film and painted its feet and the hailstones.Bill, who looks at my stuff as it develops, commented that the hailstones needed some little lines following them into the water, because they were reading as big bubbles. Yep. Little lines go in, and suddenly there's peril! Ow! Ow! Ow!

I'm happy with this one. It seems to have captured the silvery quality of a bird swimming underwater. Wouldn't you know, it was the quickest and most fun to paint, too.

Here ends Grebe Apocalypse Painting (Intermediate Level). This post is late today because I am fried crispy from a weekend that was way too much fun. Imagine a dozen people all packed into our house, talking art, playing music, and eating our heads off for two days. Pictures and posts to follow. I'm still processing all that went down, and it was all real good. Sitting over coffee and tea Sunday morning, we got to talking about the sometimes outrageous demands of illustration, and I brought these paintings out (not without some trepidation) to gales of laughter from my friends, most of whom have the sense to paint bucolic landscapes and birds in non-apocalyptic settings.


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