When I was a kid, my dad brought home a baby raccoon and we raised it. I loved that little thing and once it was old enough to survive on his own, we let it go in the woods behind my grandmother’s house. It took him about a year to acclimate to being a wild critter again, but eventually it did re-wild.
I have a love-hate relationship with raccoons. Just like foxes, they’re beautiful, intelligent, and as long as they’re not eating my chickens I love them. But raccoons take the hate aspect of our relationship a little farther. Their little hands wreak havoc on our homestead, getting into things they shouldn’t.
So I enjoy seeing them in the wild, doing their thing as nature intended. And I really enjoyed painting this portrait of a raccoon creekside on the rocks. The photographer for the reference I used is Joe D. Russell, a neighbor as the crow files here. The setting is on Felkins creek, one of my favorite locations for gathering rocks.
Painting a Raccoon … and Rocks with Rocks
This is the first painting that featured good-sized rocks, so it was fun to paint rocks with rocks. They’re my favorite feature of the painting, except for the curly little grasses that drape over the rocks.
It’s also the first painting I’ve ever done on black paper. That was a completely different experience. It was difficult to see the paint before it dried, so I had to stop often between additions of strokes to tell what I had done. Some colors didn’t show up well at all on it, but the whites from our ancient tumbled limestone really worked well.
The whole painting looks incredible in bright lighting because of that white. It kind of reminds me of those old velvet paintings. You can see the progression photos of this painting in progress here: Painting a Raccoon on Black Paper.
Hand-Foraged Pigments, Handmade Watercolor Paints
All of the pigments I used are light-fast earth pigments. Even though the paper was black, I still needed to use black paint. The darkest black is made from charred bone and is also light fast.
For more information on the various pigments I use, visit this page. We are blessed with an abundance of sandstone in various hues. These make up the bulk of my pigment sources, and most of them come from Felkins creek. Many are also gathered at our own little branch that spills into Felkins and from the rocky shores of King’s river downstream from where Felkins joins the river.
Glazing should be TruVue or another brand of glass or acrylic that offers UV protection.
Regardless of what you prefer as how it ‘looks’, the following is very important: Never allow the glass (or acrylic) to touch the painting. A double mat alone will often be enough but spacers will ensure a gap between glazing and painted surface.