As I said in my last post, painting is where the animals take on their identity. Once I've filled narrow areas, strengthened joins and seams and smoothed the finish, I paint!
I use the paint to add colour and pattern, of course, but also to add more depth and dimension. I also said I'm heavy handed and clumsy, so trying to paint a tiger's stripes, for example, is a toughy. This is where my most expensive tool comes into it: a war gamer detail paint brush. Rather than painting Warhammer, it paints leopard spots and snowman scarves. That's honestly as advanced as my tools get.
When painting wild animals, I've found I use very few colours of paint. In truth, it's pretty much just black, white and a mixture of browns, beige and oranges. From these few paints I mix the colours I need, and if I need any others, like I did for my red cardinals, I actually still use the small 15ml tubes I was using ten years ago in my GCSE art lessons (which I failed, and failed in A-Level, too - though despite that I have since been displayed in an art gallery and I have another exhibit lined up, booyah). Mixing paint, though, is a tough job. I don't use much because everything is so small, so I don't want to waste what I have, but that also means that I mix very little and that can lead to it not being enough and a batch of foxes will then vary in shade, or it will mean that the paint dries up on the palette before I'm finished with it. And if I'm painting in the evening - and at this time of the year, I often am - mixing paint is difficult with artificial light because it can make a colour seem yellower than it is. I have thought about a daylight bulb, but I want to be able to sleep afterwards and I don't really know how much blue light a daylight bulb will emit.
Despite the difficulty of painting fine details and mixing the right colour, painting is actually my favourite part. The sculpting can go wrong very easily and put an end to my intentions before they've had the chance to take root, but once I've got the shape, I've got it. The hardest part is done; painting is comparatively easy. It's time consuming and frustrating when the paint dries up, certainly, but the satisfaction of finishing it and showing Seeg, who couldn't recognise it as a dog before hand, let alone a hyena, is pretty great. It makes it all worth it, and while I don't usually like to show off finished things to friends and family, I was keen to show my recent cheetah to anyone who would look!
And don't forget about my final Christmas order dates for domestic and international purchases!