Art Insight "The Tracker" Painting the Tiger

When I set out to do this painting I knew this was going to be a breakthrough for my own personal art journey. At the time it was the biggest canvas I had worked on and I was determined to create something really bold and beautiful.

I had already painted quite a few tigers and was really pleased with how striking they look when captured in acrylic. After a visit to London Zoo with my camera I knew I had the perfect shot for my painting.

It was a daunting blank canvas at first, but I quite confidently sketched out the shape of the tiger and blocked in the main colours. For me, this is one of the most enjoyable parts of a painting. Everything is new and exciting; adding that first layer of colour to the canvas and creating something out of nothing.

The below shows my first blocky layer, where I've taken a leaf out of Van Gogh's book and used quite bold brush strokes in order to get those initial shapes and colours. 

The Tracker Tiger Painting Work in Progress Artist Diane Griffiths
Once this has dried, it's time to start adding the detail. I always begin with the eye. It's the most structured and detailed part of the painting, it can make or break it, so I was keen to get it right. Next I move onto the nose and start to get more detail on the fur.

In hindsight I should have completed my background first, but I was so excited to paint the tiger I actually didn't have the patience.

The below is starting to look quite polished now, I had a few hairy moments when the fur wouldn't do what I wanted it to do, but with patience and by building up the layers I started to get the effect I was after.

The Tracker Tiger Painting Work in Progress Artist Diane Griffiths
It was finally time to do the background before I finished off the tiger. I wanted to create an abstract grass-like effect; something with created a sense of movement.

The final layers are all about the detail now. I often take breaks between my painting sessions. During some of those breaks I sit away from the painting in order to check the overall composition, colour, texture and contrasts.

I also take photos of the painting during it's creation, particularly towards the end; this allows me to view it in a new environment (on the computer) and get a fresh perspective. It's very helpful to see when something looks wrong. I usually find with this step that there may be a perspective issue which needs fixing or some bits that just don't fit in with the whole.

I make notes on what I need to tweak and paint next, so when I approach my next painting session I know exactly what I’m going to do. I find that if I don't have those notes, I'm somewhat aimless and can ruin a painting by overworking it.

There is so much detail in this painting, the viewer can visually stroll around the image taking it all in - I just love it! 

The Tracker Tiger Painting Work in Progress Artist Diane Griffiths
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