Tuesday 27 February 2018

Painting a Sloth

I love sloths, they are just so odd looking but still very cute! I've seen one in the wild while on holiday in Costa Rica but it was so far away and up a tree it just looked like a vague pile of fur so when I went to Chester Zoo last year I took loads of photos of their two toed sloths and had to paint them! You would think they would be easy to take photos of as they are supposed to be quite slow but these ones were so active a lot of my photos were quite blurry!

My original intention was just to paint one sloth but I enjoyed it so much I got carried away and ended up doing three paintings!

This is how I painted them below. They are all painted in Liquitex Heavy Body acrylic on box canvas.

First of all I hate working on a white canvas so I painted the canvas a neutral grey all over. I wasn't intending to keep the grey background but it worked so well against the colours of the sloth's fur that I kept it in the end. I gridded up the canvas and the photo that I was working from so that I could enlarge the sloth image onto the canvas and now I'm all set to start painting!

I laid in a rough idea of the sloth with a light mix of water and an acrylic colour called parchment, which is great for animal fur, so that I could get an idea of the shape.

I'm beginning to add a few different colours to the sloth building up a few of the dark areas.

Adding a few more darks to the fur, I always work by adding paint all over the painting and never working too much in one area. 

Gradually building up the paint and adding a few more details. I'm trying to keep the direction of the paint strokes always going in the same direction as the fur so that it looks more realistic and has a sense of movement. Also I like to use a large brush so that I don't get caught up in too much detail and also get some lovely paint strokes showing in the painting.

Almost there, just strengthening the lights and darks and adding a tiny bit more detail. I like to have a strong contrast between the lights and darks in my paintings as it makes it more dynamic.

The finished painting and the two other sloth paintings I couldn't resist doing too to then make a Sloth Triptych!

Sloth Walk - acrylic painting on canvas

Hanging Sloth - acrylic painting on canvas

Sloth Reach - acrylic painting on canvas

I really enjoyed painting these sloths and loved having fun with the paint in their fur, might be tempted to do a few more soon!

Clare xx

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