Step 4 - Here I started on the bird feeder… taking a break from the ivy leaves! I used a ref photo that I took of the bird feeder from a garden. When using refs I use them for two things: lighting and structure. When sketching out the feeder I’ve sketch a line down the middle first; this is the axis of rotation for this object. Then I sketched the overall shape and added the flowers last. Once I’ve captured the basic form and lighting of the feeder, I started to design my own feeder… adding flowers, leaves, ornaments, etc. The key point was to study how the bird feeder looked realistically and also what components make up this feeder, so that next time I want to paint another feeder I could do it without reference.
Step 5 - In this step I’ve added the log, and then the few small flowers on top of the log to add more character to the scene. I also blocked in the snails and rendered them according to the light source of the painting. I also spent a long time sharpening the ivy leaves, painted and cleaning up the edges stroke by stroke. The whole purpose of doing this is to avoid “cookie cutter” leaves that will make the painting look boring and static. Sounds simple, but it took days!!
Step 6 - I started to render folds of the dress and added leafy wings. The design and colors for the wings were inspired by the young sprouting leaves that I took a picture of. I am never without my cheap Lumix camera. It doesn’t yield professional quality photos (and have been dropped many, many times!), but for what I do it does the job. Beauty is often found in unexpected places, and I don’t want to miss capturing it!! The folding of the leaves were one of those rare “happy accidents” that happened while I was blocking in the leaves.
For the dress, I used my own ref. Once again I only needed the structure and the lighting of the dress; I didn’t care that it were pink. I aimed to capture the main folds of the drapery to give my green dress a realistic look, not every fold visible in the photo. What I was looking for was “how does this fabric drape over the anatomy underneath?”
Once I’ve achieved realistic folds, I added my own design to the dress. I really enjoyed this part. I added dragonfly wing as part of the top, and overlapping that I added an ivy-like pattern that echoed the ivy on the tree. Some flowers and leaves are also added to the head-piece, with ivy leaves to unify the overall design.
Step 7 - Once again I came back to the vines and leaves! I added small curly vines to give the vines more character and also achieve a more artistic look. I painted the berries to add variation of the shapes and some white flowers to give a focus among all those greens. Then I added the birds. I painted each of the birds on separate layers, moving them around until I was happy with where they were. One particular bird I wanted him to direct the eyes back into the painting (the one she is looking at), since the viewers will follow her eyes and look right out of the painting! But he was not enough; I later on added a flower to give more “weight” to this redirection of the eye-path.