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Getting it right

One of the most common questions I’m asked is “how long does it take?” So, I thought I’d quickly run through the process of the creation of a recent piece – “Razzle dazzle”
Painting zebras is always a bit of a headache inducer – all those stripes, and five together was ambitious. I started with a small sketch 25x25cm, which went well, and was pretty straightforward.

Zebras, £350

So, an expensive sheet of 70x50cm paper is clipped up onto the easel and I start on a big version.

Started well..
But soon joined the growing pile of rejects on the floor…
There were several versions of charcoal on white paper, each more disastrous than the previous. I just couldn’t get the light as I envisaged it. Finally, I scrapped about £30 worth of paper into the bin and tried on a dark grey paper. This version I was pleased with, the zebras really standing out from the background. It’s hard to keep the looseness of the original sketch, but working from drawings rather than photos really helps.
Herd of Zebras 70x50cm £850

Then I moved onto the oil, the background took ages to get right, I started with an ochre/blue/pale cream combination, but then changed the background to red which I felt conveyed Africa a bit more, that red dust. Also the ochre was too similar to the foreground colour. The blue doesn’t really show up in the photos, as it is so close in tone to the top layer, but it’s very clear in the flesh so to speak.

Razzle dazzle
It’s not a huge painting, 24x18inches, but I felt any bigger and I’d lose the freshness, although getting enough detail proved a little tricky. 
Framed and ready for sale £1500