Selecting the Materials for a Wildlife Painting

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series How I Begin A Wildlife Painting

In the previous four articles, I’ve discussed the design of the location, the composition, the wildlife, and the color scheme for our wildlife painting. It’s now time to talk a little about the materials that I will use in the painting.

There are actually three materials that we have to decide on when creating a wildlife painting. These choices hold true for any type of painting but are especially important in wildlife art. The three basic materials are the type of paint, the type of medium, and the painting support.

The type of paint that I choose is basically determined by two factors. The first factor is the type of frame that I want the painting placed in. If I decide that I want to display the painting behind glass, I must choose acrylic paint because oil does not do well behind glass because of the way oil paint cures. If I want to display the painting without glass, I can choose either oil or acrylic paint as both of these types can be displayed with not glass. All that is necessary is to apply a coat of picture varnish to protect the paint. The other factor that determines the type of paint is the amount of time I want to wait before the picture is ready to frame. Oil paintings require from six months to a year to cure properly where and acrylic is ready to frame within a week of finishing the painting.

The painting medium is the liquid that is used to thin the paint so that it can be applied to the support. The type of medium used in the painting is determined soley by the type of paint that is selected. Oil paint requires a solvent type medium such as turpentine, the newer odorless types of synthetic turpentine, linseed oil, or damar varnish. Some of the newer oil paints are designed to be thinned with water. Acrylic paint requires a water based medium for application to the support.

The support is the type of material that the paint is applied to. There are two types of medium that I use, paper or stretched canvas. For my acrylic painting I use either paper or stretched canvas, depending again on how I plan to frame the painting. I select the type of paper based on the amount of detail that the painting will have. If I want extreme close up detail, I select a smooth surfaced paper. If I am painting with less detail, I will choose a paper with more texture.

I always use stretched canvas for oil paintings. Stretched canvas has a primer coat applied to prevent the oil and solvents from deteriorating the cloth weave of the canvas. The stretch of the canvas creates a perfect support for the blending techniques I use when applying oil paint to the surface. Although there are newer supports available for oil paint, I like the feel of applying oil to stretched canvas. And besides, stretched canvas is the traditional painting support for all the oil painting masters from the past.

That about wraps up how I select the material for my paintings. Be sure to read the summary for all these articles in the next issue.

Until next time, keep your brushes clean, your colors pure, and as always, thanks for stopping by the North Forty.


Selecting the Materials for a Wildlife Painting

Thank you.

Series NavigationSelecting the Color Scheme for a Wildlife PaintingConclusion to How I Begin A Wildlife Painting
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