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Before and after the detailing on the limb.

Details make a difference | A before and after study

I’m still getting the hang of techniques when it comes to painting. One thing I’ve found is that details make a difference in the right places. The key is in figuring out where those details need to go. And how many details it needs. When I first began painting a little over a year ago, I struggled with trying to include too many details. This led to frustration because I just couldn’t make the painting as detailed as I would have liked to have made it. I was aiming for complete and total accuracy and could not live up to my own expectations.

Now I’ve relaxed a bit and have come to the realization that it’s not so much that every single place needs all of the details, but that certain spots need more and certain spots are fine with less.

Almost always I’ll go with less detail in the background. Sometimes I’ll make a background that actually resembles something now, whereas before I only used a single color and a bit of splatter for the background. I still like that simple background in a lot of cases. But there are times when I see more of the whole picture in my mind, so I’ll add a bit more details to flesh that out.

In my current painting of a bald eagle I’m adding a background from my imagination. It’s not very detailed, but it does give an impression of what I see in my mind’s eye. It’s the foreground where I want to make sure I’ve included enough detail. The foreground includes the subject (the eagle) and the immediate surroundings (the limb and branches).

In this image, the limb is just color-blocked without any details. That’s just to hold the place for it while I work on the other parts.

No details on the limb yet.

In this image, I’ve put in the colors I want to use, but not much detail.

Limb with more color but not detailed.
Limb with more color but not detailed. The wing details are finished, though.

And in this image, I’ve added the details I wanted to give the bark the look and texture of a hickory tree limb. I may do a little more to it later, but it’s enough to satisfy me for now.

After adding details to the limb.
Now the limb details are done and I’ll start working on the rest of the eagle’s feet and body.

You can see all of the progress on this painting at the Bald Eagle Progress Post. Today’s post is just a focus on the branch the eagle is perched on.

If you’re a watercolor artist and have some tips or advice, I’d love to hear it. My paints are probably more like gouache than transparent watercolors, but I like trying out different techniques when I learn about them. It’s good to experiment and push the limits of my pigments 😀 And if you’re an art lover, I’d just love to hear your thoughts about what it is that makes you love a a work of art.

4 thoughts on “Details make a difference | A before and after study”

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    1. LOL, I think the way watercolors are *supposed* to be done is closer to the first one. But I like the details. One day I might loosen up and try some different styles with less detail… but not yet.

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