Saturday, May 16, 2020

Painting - Rocky Mountain Bull Elk

Acrylic Painting of a bull elk in the rocky mountains colorado montana idaho utah wyoming

This is my latest painting of an autumn landscape with a big bull elk bugling.  It represents what I view as a classic Colorado fall scene.  The elk reference I used in this picture was taken from a photograph I took years ago in Rocky Mountain National Park.  The autumn landscape was taken near the Silverthorne/Vail area on a fall colors photography trip, while the sagebrush in the foreground was taken from yet another photograph.  Putting all these images together in a rough composite allowed me to tweak the composition exactly the way I wanted it.  I then adjusted the lighting so they fit together.  Artist license... it's allowed!

Elk reference photo

Inpiration background photo

Photoshopped reference photo

 Recently, I have been working on my technique with the goal to paint faster without sacrificing quality.  I try to use a larger brush for much of the piece to fill in sections faster giving the illusion of texture and detail, especially in the background.  Another thing that I'm learning is that using a solid reference photograph goes a long way toward creating that realistic, engaging image.  It's fun to compare images from the past to see how you've grown as an artist.  Below is a similar painting I completed when I was in college 15 years ago.  Side by side with this current one, you can see a lot of technical improvements:

15 years ago

Last, here's a complete time-lapse video of the entire painting process: