Sarah Stribbling, one of our Fuel Your Creativity artists is going to take you through how she creates one of her ‘Dream Series’ paintings using an Arteza Canvas Panel, Oils Paints, and Paint Brushes. The characteristics of these paintings are bright, vibrant, and as Sarah says, “It’s quite a messy style of painting, we’re not doing a realism piece, so don’t worry if it's rough around the edges.” So let’s dive into how to create a colorful and abstract wildlife portrait with Sarah!
How to Create a Vibrant Hare Portrait in 4 Stages
- Canvas Panel / Stretched Canvas
- Oil Paints
- Paint Brushes
- Blending Medium (Optional)
Create the Eye
Sarah always starts with the eyes, which will be the one feature in this painting that will remain the same colors as the reference picture. First, grab black oil paint to create the outline of the eye and fill in the pupil. Additionally, add a bit of brown around the edges of black to add depth. Next, paint the iris color. Sarah mixes yellow and green to create the color of the iris, always making sure to wash her brush and dab off excess in-between color transitions.
The most important part of the eye is to include highlights, even if your reference picture does not have it. Adding this to the eye adds shine, and makes the eye look glassy and full of life. In this case, Sarah’s reference photo has a bit of highlight across the eye, the top of the eye, and the bottom rim of the eye. Sarah uses white oil paint and a thin paintbrush to gently add these subtle highlights. Lastly, Sarah adds in black eyelashes.
Tip: If you happen to have a tablet, Sarah likes to keep her reference photo there so she can zoom in and out, but any way to look at the photo that is accessible and easy for you is ideal.
Now that the eyes are finished, you can start painting the fur. The most important part of filling in the body is taking note of the reference photo. Sarah uses light-colored paints for light areas and dark-colored paints for dark areas of the hare’s fur. Before she starts a painting, Sarah says she doesn't have much of a plan except to use this technique.
First, add the light shade of choice around the eye (in this case, Sarah uses light blue) using a flat round brush. Sarah roughly matches both sides of the face in order to create symmetry, but in this case imperfections are also welcome, as that is an intentional style choice for her Dream Series of paintings.
Next, start adding more shades of light colors around the face. Don't worry about colors like yellow and blue mixing to create green, it will only add more to the rainbow effect you’re trying to recreate! To create the fur effect, lightly flick your brush up with the tip of the brush. Going off of the reference photo, start adding the respective light and dark shades of your choice. If there are any harsh lines between shades, pick an intermediate color to break that up. Now that you’ve completed the face, you can move on to the next step.
Tip: Sarah likes to pick out a variety of brushes beforehand. This helps with being prepared, as well as allows more time to create the piece because you don't have to search for the perfect brush.
To create fur for the body of the hare, use larger strokes on the flat side of the brush to cover more area, while still flicking out to create the fur effect. Start painting under the chin area using the darker shades to create depth. This also makes the head a nice focal point. Continue adding dark shades in patches, making sure to leave empty space for your lighter colors. Once the darker base around the chin and over the body is complete, you can start adding the light colors as you did for the head. It’s important to use the same colors from the head of the hare and to incorporate them into the body, that way there isn't a color sticking out at the top.
Tip: Make sure to add the whiskers of the animal before you move onto the next step!
Lastly, add the paint splatters as a finishing touch. Using paint thinner, get the oil paint very thin so it practically drips off your paint brush. Next, simply gather this on your paint brush and flick the paint brush over the surface of the canvas panel/stretched canvas. For Sarah’s piece, she uses dark shades, but you can use whatever color you’d like! Don’t be afraid to get the splatters on the hare/subject you're painting as well.
Tip: If you don't have a paint thinner specifically for oil paint, you can water down Arteza’s Acrylic Paint, or use our Acrylic Pouring Paint.
There you have it, a vibrant and rainbow colored hare! We hope this how-to has inspired you to recreate this wildlife drawing, and encouraged you to try similar tips and tricks when creating. Don’t forget to read more about Sarah here.