Selecting the Wildlife for a Wildlife Painting

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series How I Begin A Wildlife Painting

In the first article of this series, I covered creating the location for a new painting and then in the second article I talked about the composition. In this article I will talk briefly about how I go about choosing what wildlife will appear in the new painting.

I generally favor painting waterfowl in the majority of my work. Usually I find myself drawn to mallard ducks. One reason I paint mallard ducks so frequently is because it is much easier to get reference photographs of mallards than any other species.

One of my favorite vacation spots is the mountains of Gatlinburg Tennessee. Running through the downtown area of Gatlinburg is a river that harbors hundreds of mallard ducks. You can stand with a camera and watch them swim, rest on the rocks, and even catch them lifting off the water in flight, and photograph them landing on the water. Just about anywhere you go where there is a body of water, mallards are plentiful.

Wood ducks, mergansers, scaups, and other similar ducks are much more elusive so reference photographs are harder to acquire. Photographing these species in flight, which is the way I prefer painting ducks, is very hard to do. There are plenty of reference photographs of most any kind of duck you can think of on the internet, but the majority of these photographs are of the birds swimming in the water. The reason is because they are so hard to photograph flying.

Painting any wildlife accurately without the proper reference material is very difficult. The way the light falls on a particular wing feather, how the shadow plays against the duck’s bill, or how the feet are held during flight, are all hard to visualize without pictures to refer to during the painting process. If I’m painting a duck in flight I want to see how the light interacts with the bird in every detail.

The scene that I’ve designed also plays a big part in the wildlife that will be painted into the scene. If I have designed a large expansive lake scene, then wood ducks would not fit because they are typically found in more secluded woodland waterways. If I’ve decided on a woodland scene with not water, then deer or turkeys are the best choice.

So as you can see, the wildlife that will inhabit the scene that I’ve designed are pretty solidly connected to the design of the scene itself. It is a marriage of sorts. Now with the scene designed, the composition in place, and the wildlife selected, its time to select a color scheme. And that is the topic of my next article. So I’ll see you there.

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


Selecting the Wildlife for a Wildlife Painting

Thank you.

Series NavigationCreating the Composition of a Wildlife PaintingSelecting the Color Scheme for a Wildlife Painting
This entry was posted in Preparation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Selecting the Wildlife for a Wildlife Painting

  1. Superb blog post, I have book marked this internet site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future!

  2. lose weight says:

    Hey There. I found your website using msn. This is a very well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the article. I’ll certainly return.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>