Today’s “Compare 3” is about painting action. In the first example, “Sparrows“, we have a bird in flight; coming in for a landing, and a bird at rest; perched on the ground. The feathers on the sparrow in action are more linear than the rounded feather patterns on the resting sparrow. The claws on the landing sparrow look extended, while the resting sparrow’s claws- while also open- look relaxed. The action is shown through subtle differences in line shape, weight, and direction.
The next example “Wild Horses“, isn’t subtle in its representation of the act of running. The action is boldly shown through skewed perspective and heavy brush strokes, deep shadows, and contrasting highlights. This style of painting action looks almost like animation or cartooning. Because of this, the painting has a fun vibe. Compare “Wild Horses’“, carefree emotional weight to that to the rather serious, pensive emotion of “Sparrows“. How an artist depicts action depends on the story being told.
The following video of “Wild Horses“, session 1, is a tutorial about how to approach this type of painting, that depicts action. Skewed perspective, blurred lines, and the illusion of some parts of the body nearer to the viewer than others, are all effective means to paint action. The video is 13 minutes long and shows parts of the process in real time.
If interested in viewing more tutorials, you can see all of my free art lessons through the Classroom landing page. “Wild Horses” was a great project for illustrating action. So, we went from a subtle representation of action in “Sparrows” to an overt depiction in “Wild Horses“. In our final example, the swimming action of the dolphin is a blend between subtle and obvious.
The “Dolphin” action is shown through the bold water spray, but also through the subtle bend of the body and the gentle shadow changes in the water. In this way, the natural elements the dolphin interacts with support the illusion of action. When we paint connectivity between a subject and the natural world, action and stories are more believable.
Painting action is important to stories about drive, freedom, joyfulness, and passion. Moving is living. While a still life and a restful impressionistic scene are quite beautiful, balance is even more glorious. For all the days we sit, may we also splash, run, and dream that we can fly.