The first Clarity Challenge of the year has the theme Animal Kingdom.
This is quite fortuitous, as I got the hare stencil for Christmas, in order to make a picture for my mum's birthday at the end of January. She loves hares, so I thought of her as soon as I saw it.
I wanted to make a canvas for her, as I love the texture. I tried the stencil on various sizes - I wanted the main image to be quite close in to the hare - and found that it fits beautifully onto a 6x6 canvas if you tilt it. And that this then fits onto an A4 canvas at an interesting angle.
I started with the background of the 6x6. I wanted to make it quite natural, and quite bright rather than moody. I brushed on acrylics, then added the grass with the side of an acrylic block.
I was really pleased with this, but then I added the hare, with texture paste. I coloured him/her with distress ink, and brushed ink inside the hare shape as well, but it really wasn't working for me (the photo looks a bit better than I thought it did in real life!)
The shape is too abstract for such a literal background I decided. So late one night, this happened....
Working with it and playing around, I got to this...
Which I liked, and was going to colour the hare a grey metallic to match some of the dots, then decided that it was a bit too out there for my mum, and not what I wanted.
So I gesso'd over the top in white, and went to bed!
The next day, I added the green (hey pesto is the colour - it's translucent so it needed the white underneath to be this vibrant).
I followed a similar path to the night before, but in more natural colours. I dry brushed white metallic over the background, mostly on the right, then added dots in this and burnt umber with a bit of gold mixed in.
The hare was also painted in the brown and gold mix, and I dry brushed inside the shape a little. The eyes I painted with the solid brown, to make them stand out a little. I ran a sponge with the brown and gold on around the edge to frame it.
The background was developing alongside this piece, and trying to keep up with the changes! I divided the A4 canvas into 4 areas.
They had quite different base colours, but the idea was that as I added colours they would tone in together more. I used the birch trees stencil top left, the NDC trees top right, the 2 in 1 curly strip bottom left, and the wild flowers bottom right.
I like them all individually here, but they don't hang together as wells I'd like, or with the hare (in its final incarnation!). So I added more dots, in the brown and gold, to the top right and bottom left, which were a bit stark and plain. It still needed softening - it is the background, so I didn't want it fighting with the main image. So out came the punchinella. It really is a life saving piece of kit! I sponged the brown/gold and the metallic white through in patches. I particularly like the effect over the wildflowers, I'll use this combo again for a background.
I think this is part way through the process of adding it. The metallic white doesn't show well unless it catches the light.
I edged this canvas in the same way as the smaller one.
The final touch was to define the vertical lines between the sections. I tried adding a row of the dots, but they went really wonky and uneven, and looked awful! For plan B I painted a scrap strip of stencil card with the brown/gold mix, then die cut it. I think the die is meant to be rolled to make a flower, but it fitted this purpose very well. I attached it with PVA, and wrapped it around the back of the canvas.
The 6x6 went onto the A4 with a double sided adhesive sheet, then I decided it needed a further frame, as it's quite busy, so it went onto an A3 canvas, with another adhesive sheet.
This was one of those projects that I really wasn't sure where it was going when I started. Although even if I had, the plan derailed pretty quickly!
It was a lot of fun playing, experimenting, and finding other routes when one didn't work. Painting right over something you've been working on for a while is a bit scary, but liberating at the same time. You always get to start again!
If I did this again I might change the background a bit, but I'm really happy with how the hare has turned out. I got my natural colours, and it's bright and sunny, but is abstract enough to suit the style of the stencil design.