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Homecolour chartsThe Slow Approach

The Slow Approach

Plan like a turtle; paint like a rabbit.
Edgar A. Whitney

Sometimes starting a painting can be so daunting because there are so many aspects to think about. So I’ve become a bit of a plodder. Rather than dive in, I’ll take the slow approach and happily spend a few days just getting to know my subject first.
Flowers get pulled apart and painted petal by petal.  
Leaves are placed on the page and painted over and over again until I’ve found that perfect green mix. Just the simple pleasure of painting little squares of colour can make me feel like I’m accomplishing things.
It’s not just botanical work that is given this treatment. This week I have a dead snipe on my desk. 
A friend called me to say that she had found the poor dead creature and had kindly popped it into her freezer for me! Some of the snipes here in Ireland are winter visitors from Faroe Islands and Iceland. Never having seen a snipe in real life, I was both intrigued and excited. 
Curiosity overcame any squeamishness.

So Gallinago gallinago (common snipe) arrived with it’s very impressive beak, which is used for poking around in the mud for food. The bill has special nerve endings which allows it to feel what it finds beneath the surface. Under a magnifying glass I could just see the honeycomb pitting on the surface near the end. 
They are sometimes called Bog Bleaters or Sky Goats because of the strange sound that the males make during courtship using their tail feathers. Have a listen to this- Snipe bird sounds
The snipe is also known for it’s ability to thwart hunters. As well as being superbly camouflaged, it flies in a very fast and erratic zig zag pattern. In fact, the word ‘sniper’ came from the ability to shoot a snipe, something that needed skill, patience and precision.  For me, the task of capturing those wonderfully patterned feathers on paper was going to be just as challenging.
One of the beautiful tail feathers and a colour chart
I measured and I painted. I made a colour chart of those lovely earth colours. I pulled a few feathers from the damaged side and did small studies of those. I messed up the size of the bill which should be thinner, but this is a study. This is where the mistakes should be made!
By the time that I had finished this page, I felt that I knew the little snipe Gallinago gallinago, and I’m ready to paint him.
Sometimes the slow approach is best.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
Lao Tzu

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