Playing with Bunnies

How sweet, Little One enjoys going out and finding cute animals to play with! She loves animals, and today she finds her twin bunny friends and having so much fun. And so why not paint about this happy moment? Here is a painting I made during my Tuesday evening art classes last September with Dieter Klassen in Driebergen (Netherlands). Sadly he had to suspend classes for some time due to COVID regulations and whilst he has recently resumed, I prefer not to join until I am fully vaccinated which hopefully should happen this summer. Look forward to it!

New Medium: Oil Paint Sticks

At Dieter’s class, I expressed my interest in trying out oil paint sticks. I first came across oil paint sticks in Juliette Crane’s on-line classes and was curious to find out more about them. The ones that are used in Dieter’s class are by Sennelier. With these sticks you can also combine with oil pastels as they are the same family. They are quite versatile to use but could be messy at times so I thought it best to practice in class first then when I’m more accustomed to them, try at home. Another limitation is that as they are oil based, they take weeks to dry. Then you have to coat the painting with varnish and again let it dry for weeks. And the varnish can be quite smelly. Still, I love the results and we shall see below.

Outline

Special paper was used for this painting. Although not thick paper, it was a large sheet with a smooth surface so the oil sticks and pastels can slide smoothly. Also you don’t have the risk that the oils penetrate but stays on the surface with the pigment. I did a very light sketch with pencil, and I say very light because the graphite from the pencil could mix in with the oil from the sticks and soil the outline. So far so cute, as I scribbled in a rough outline with Little One flanked between the two big bunnies.

Painting Phase One

And now to the painting! One tip to keep in mind is, if possible, making the outline the same color as the background since that will be colored in first. I guess I didn’t think of that when I was sketching Little One but not to worry. I just had to be careful around on the edges. What I found amazing about drawing with paint sticks is how smoothly and softly the paint spreads, considering how solid the sticks are. You do need to press quite hard though to get the thickness, and any obvious streaks can be covered up by going over them so the paint spreads evenly. At this point, the class ended and I was to come back to finish it off the next week.

Phase Two

A week later, and the background yellow was reasonably dry though still a bit sticky. I was ready to paint the subjects! White bunnies first, followed by Little One. For her hair, I decided to create “brown” by mixing all the primary colors of blue, red and yellow on the paper. Just swirl them together on the area so the colors automatically mix. It was the same for the collar to make it a salmon pink. I was afraid that the white face on Little One would make her too ghostly, but she blended in well with the bunnies, and the red of the dress made her look less pale. As the yellow background was dry enough to add more paint on top, I tested by doodling in some hearts in red. Then I painted the grass in blue which, with the yellow below, appeared green. As finishing touches, I made some scratches with a cocktail stick; streaks on the hair, drawing in the eyes and the grass full of flowers. The outline of the bunnies were then traced over with dark grey or black oil pastel. And now!

The finished painting took some weeks to dry before Dieter could apply some top coat to seal it. Then a few more weeks until I can take it home. Before taking it home, though, I had him frame it. I’m definitely happy with the outcome of the painting and rather impressed about the finish. I do like the waxy appearance and bumpy texture which adds dimension to the piece. And Little One and her bunnies look ever so happy and adorable, don’t you agree? Even the other students loved this jovial painting, saying how we need something uplifting during these difficult times. Great positive vibes. Once I’m ready to start Dieter’s class again, I would very much like to do more oil stick and pastel paintings!

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