Volunteers II

Today I had a visit from another volunteer, Alexis Brown.  Alexis is a graduate of the Chicago Art Institute and may be one of the most innately talented artists I have ever met.  She teaches printmaking at the Creative Arts Workshop, works with kids at the Eli Whitney Museum on Sundays (her dad, Bill is the director of the Eli Whitney Museum and is another creative genius) and she also runs a landscaping business.

Alexis Brown and juniper branch

Lexi has been working in my lab for several years skinning birds to make study skins for the education department.  She works on birds and keeps her sketch pad at the ready to make drawings of anything that catches her interest.  Each of these sketches could be framed as is-they are that good.  Today, I asked her if she would like to work out how to paint the dried juniper branches.  You may remember from a previous blog that I collected three small juniper branches from an old quarry site in Stony Creek at the end of December.  Those have now dried out and are losing their color.  They will eventually turn completely brown-hence the need for paint.  They had already been brushed with latex to keep the needles in place, so I gave one to Alexis to try painting.  She got out the oil paint and whipped up a very good green, close to the one I made to match the fresh branches, thinned it a bit with mineral spirits, put it in the airbrush, and gave it a good coat of paint.

It is impossible to keep the color just on the needles; the branches get covered with green paint as well.  So Lexi spent the rest of the afternoon painting the branches back to a brown color that gradates from a dark umber  at the base to a lighter golden-yellowish brown at the ends of the branch.  Juniper has a light green stripe on the underside of each needle and Lexi then “striped” many of the needles so the effect was startingly close to the real thing.  We’ll let it dry and hit it with a gloss finish to put the final touch on.  So Lexi, now that you’ve got the method down on one branch, are you ready to take on the whole shrub?

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Explore posts in the same categories: Preparing the Foreground

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