As the VAA International Art Exhibition opens, I thought it would be nice to write about the inspiration and story behind one of my pieces of artwork. This painting is included in the exhibition and is for sale.

final painting of Village Weaver birds
The Final Bird Painting featured in the VAA International Exhibition 2021

Wildlife Artwork and Chester Zoo

Visiting the amazing Chester Zoo, I can spend many hours studying the animals, making sketches and working on ideas for wildlife paintings. I get to study the movements, gesture and character of all the fascinating creatures.

Developing the Artworks Composition

For my painting, If You Build It..., I started by created many thumbnail pencil sketches to work on composition and values based on lots of photo reference and studies in my sketchbook. Once I had arrived with a composition I liked, I sketched it out in charcoal on canvas and created a loose value underpainting in a warm earth colour.

Value block in acrylic painting
The tonal lay in. This is how I start most paintings.

Village Weavers are amazing bright yellow and black birds that build giant, hanging ball-shaped nests to attract a mate. They also steal from each others nest to make sure they have the biggest and the best. To capture their character, I wanted a strong coloured ground to peek through the final painting. I chose magenta.

Pink underpainting on canvas
At this point I wondered if magenta was too strong as a base colour for the painting.

Building Up the Painting

The rest of the painting was built up with loose, expressive brushstrokes to evoke the movement of flight in layers. The quick drying acrylic paints meant I could work at speed and complete the painting before fatigue set in.

Building the painting up in layers of acrylic brush strokes
I begin building up layers of paint, working across the whole of the canvas to create unity in the artwork.
Close to finished wildlife painting
The painting is almost finished at this stage. One more pass of brush strokes across the canvas to complete it which I call the detail pass.

I wanted to keep the background as fairly abstract painting, evoking the depth of field of our vision and camera film. I also used it as a way of drawing the eye to the main attraction.

Keeping in Touch

I hope you enjoyed this insight into the creation of an acrylic painting. Please check out the VAA Exhibition and all the amazing artists work for sale at the link above. If you would like to commission me or purchase a painting then do contact me. For all the latest news (and special offers to subscribers) then please sign up for my newsletter below.