Happy with the Lamb

As I considered this painting last night I identified some changes to make on the lamb.  The indentations on the top of the head were too dak.  As a result, they seemed to suggest a line around the face that almost looked like the lamb had a mask on.  I think the fur on the face is shorter than the surrounding hair causing this look legitimately, but it was too strong.  Also, the left rear foot was too bright and the right front foot was not properly shaded.  I wanted to emphasize the demarcation between the right shoulder and the rest of the body and lighten the fluff on the tail.

When I thought about the possibility of adding a daisy I had to admit to myself what I think I knew all along – that it just wouldn’t work.  Visually it would be too startling and emotionally it would be too sweet and cute.  But I wanted somethhing more in the background.  As I continued to look at the painting I noticed some very subtle domed shapes that had just “happened” in the lower right background.  They vaguely reminded me of little domed clumps of wild flowers.  I liked the idea of the domed clumps because they would echo, on a much larger scale, the texture in the wool.

I made the changes to the lamb.  Moving to the background, I very lightly began to suggest clumps with shades of green that were pretty close to the background values, but sufficiently different to model the clumps.  In front of the left front foot I had already added a shape that very strongly suggested a tuft of grass so I went with that idea.  To avoid cutting the painting in half and to integrate the new wildflower element with the lamb I carried it further to the left under the lamb and also put a clump under her right rear foot.  I decided on blue for the flowers and kept the values to a narrow range.  I then added some blue to the lamb’s wool for color continuity.

At that point I was pretty happy and ready to put the painting away.  But then Shelley and Barb looked at it and they were both bothered by the unfinished look of the left front foot.  They were right because the foliage in front of it was not sufficiently strong to read as obscuring the foot – it just looked like an unfinished part of the painting.  So I strengthened that foliage, darkened the background behind the foot, and suggested a little of the foot showing between blades of the wild grass.  It’s better now.

So I’m ready to put it away and begin the next painting.  I plan to come back to all five paintings before I send in my application and look for more finishing touches or problems that I may see with fresh eyes.  The fact that there is only one clump of grass bothers me a bit and I will revisit that potential problem at that point.


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