Monday, November 8, 2010

Curious and Shy

     So, on Friday we established a plan for my painting titled  “Curious and Shy”.  Today, we execute the painting, and with any luck, we will have a nice monochromatic watercolor that meets our composition and design, as well as doing justice to our chosen subject.
      I began my painting by first establishing some darks.  My first paint application was a dark grey in the eyes, nostrils and ears.  These darks establish enough early drawing for me to feel comfortable with proceeding.  As I’ve stated before, if I can’t peg the eyes then the painting has no soul and I usually don’t proceed any further.  I also start adding a basic wash to establish the burro’s form.  This wash consists of mixtures and layers of Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber and any blue (Cobalt or Ultramarine).  I used both.  This is the painting after these two paint applications.

     Next, I establish more darks (Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber) in the burro’s tails and the cross markings on their backs.  Also note that I put an atmospheric wash around their feet.  This helps to anchor my subject and incorporate them into the picture.  I’m sticking with my original idea and game plan.

     My next washes are a weak background wash of Ultramarine Blue on the right side.  This wash is the beginning of the execution of my original sketch.  I will layer several warm and cool glazes in this area to build up a nice textural and atmospheric effect.  I also establish the cast shadow on the ground.  This shadow really anchors my subject and moves my burros beyond being a vignette.  The background, like my limited palette, will be minimal, but effective.
      Here is the painting after the third paint application.

     My final paint application is the cast shadows on the burros, and more glazes on the background.
     For the cast shadows I use my purple shadow mix (Ultramarine Blue and Alizarin Crimson) and establish the darkest shadows.  The photo of my burros pushes this shadow to nearly black.  I stay at a value of about 8 and make a single pass with this color.  I don’t want this wash to be broken up or variegated.  Several weaker washes of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue in the background and I call the small painting finished and a success.
     Here is the final painting with its story that I presented to my collectors for my Painting Of The Week series.

Curious and Shy
The title of this painting turned out to be
the impetus to complete the painting.  These
two siblings are at opposite ends of the spectrum
when it comes to confronting the unknown.
The burro in the foreground is the inquisitive,
nosy type, while his brother, peering through the
safety of ears and mane, plays it on the safer side.
They continue to run wild in the high desert country
near Paulden, AZ.  I admit to a soft spot for their kind
and always look forward to any opportunity to
 portray their distinctive personalities. 

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All content and images © Mark Kohler Studio. 


  1. just to let you know that i am really enjoying your blog. thanks for letting the reader inside your head. very informative and refreshing. your blog is the first thing i read when i get home from work. by the way, i'll send you a picture of one of my paintings that i did with your help.

    luis garcia
    mission, tx

  2. I really appreciate your feedback. It keeps me motivated and inspired to continue the blog. And I would really like to see one of your paintings. Send it on!