Oil/Acrylic. If all challenges were made easy then my journey wouldn’t be a labor of love and I’d quit. Out of all my commissions this has had to be the most extensive so far. My client wanted a birthday gift of a painting for her husband. She explained to me that she wanted an eagle in flight with a feather falling toward earth. Her husband was White Mountain Apache and therefore the significance of the eagle and feather. I told her let’s do a feather resting on a branch rather than floating in air. She agreed. So began my journey with allot of thought to what this painting was going to mean to this gentleman. I was asked to do this one in oil. One thing I wanted to make sure it had brilliance and movement with a total focus on this mans tribal ancestry.
Before I started the painting I started to research the White Mountain Apache and found the reservation to be in Arizona. I looked at many sites which showed the terrain. Finally I found some images of the landscape I needed to “fit” with the subject, of eagle and feather. I wanted the background as dramatic as I could make it with the White Mountain Apache foothills in the background and various peeks and valleys with the eagle in flight overlooking his territory while one of his feathers fell to rest on a pine tree branch. My image of the layout in my mind was pretty close. I re-sketched it only twice. I re-positioned the eagle only once as well as the feather.
The background was a thought of brilliance and therefore I took out my compressor and airbrushed my background with the medium in acrylic paint. Formed my clouds as I went. When I start my clouds I can only feel my way through for movement and make sure the lighting was to reflect on the subjects.
My Eagle had been sketched in and partially painted well before I started the background. When airbrushing, your subjects need to be well planned out before you start an adventure such as this. I did get ahead of myself and suffered an amount of time and patients wore very thin. I had to mask my eagle so that it wouldn’t be lost while I airbrushed the background and painted the clouds. Masking entails a product which is a fast drying rubber substance to cover your image. Then after you’ve finished the area around the image you rub off the rubber substance. I went over and over and over till it was seemingly endless. By the time I completed the background I had gone over my eagle more than four times and stopped counting. The eagle was in oil. The drying time between acrylic and oil are at two opposite ends. Acrylic is water base and of course oil is what oil is. But, I was able to cut it’s drying time down with a dryer solution.
When you have challenges as this one, one character trait that must stay steadfast is the self discipline. If your discipline is in check, your outcome is a rewarding journey.
The client’s husband didn’t get his gift for his birthday. As soon as she opened the box she gave him an early gift. He cried.