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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

Kingfisher Commission

I was commissioned to make an A3 watercolour painting of a kingfisher on an abstract background. Here is an insight into my design process...

This was the inspiration photo I was sent, with instructions that blue and orange were to be the dominant colours in the artwork.

I initially sketched out 2 copies of a design based on this photo and experimented with the background. In the first sketch, I added watercolour splatters in a mixture of colours. In the second design, I painted the background with a blue wash and waited for it to dry before adding splatters in brown and blue. I decided neither image really worked for a couple of reasons; firstly, I realised the bird needed to be painted seperately to the background and then overlayed; secondly, I decided the final artwork should stick to the blue, orange and brown colour scheme but not to paint the background in a blue wash.

I then created the illustration of the bird, in ink and watercolour. adding as much detail and shading as I could to the artwork. I used a very fine brush to create a feathery texture for the bird and a larger brush to create the rough texture of the wood.

I then created 5 different A2 watercolour abstract splatter paintings. These paintings don't take very long to make and I wanted to give the artwork's commissioner a choice in the final outcome, especially regarding the colour domincance of the artwork. These backgrounds varied in dominance of orange/brown and blue, for two of the paintings, I also added white splatters in acrylic paint.

I also explored creating a black silhouette around the bird and the branch, to help it stand out from the busy background, but ultimately, I wasn't convinced it worked.

Ultimately, the customer decided he wanted the pure blue splatter background and a contrasting orange frame, I advised him to buy a frame larger than A3 with a mount. Then I adhered the bird to the background in the orientation he desired and signed the artwork, as requested.


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