Thursday, 10 September 2015

Bees At Work

oil painting of bees capping honey
Here is a scene from the inside of the hive. Ever since our bees properly arrived, I have wanted to have a go at painting this scene: I thought if ever there was a subject that would lead me to a muddy end, this was it. I thought for a long time how to best tackle it.
Firstly, I stained the board with some raw umber, pretty dark  Then I washed in some dark patches to indicate the areas that will be more in shadow and the approximate position of the bees and then (most unlike me) waited the necessary time for it to fully dry. After that, I more or less worked as I usually do: top left, across and down, completing as I went. 
One thing I did do differently was to re-visit the finished painting after it was dry to add some more 'wax' i.e. the light cream colour to indicate where the bees are capping brood or honey:
work-in-progress photos of bee painting
Also, I used a very, very soft brush: a Winsor & Newton 1/4 inch angled water colour brush. Apart from the initial block in, this was the only brush I used. It made a big difference to my ability to add extremely thin, light lines on top of wet paint with less risk of it mixing in and causing a muddle -  for example, the edges of some cells in the comb and the bees' wings. 
The palette was: Vandyke Brown, Black, Yellow Ochre Deep, Gamblin warm white and titanium white (for wings).