Wildlife artist Kim Thompson loves walking with a sketchbook. Her outings inspire her to create her artwork including fabulously detailed, colourful wildlife paintings, in acrylics or oils, which are exhibited and sold far and wide.
Kim works on drawings until she is happy with the composition. Then she transfers it to her board (such as illustration board or gessoed MDF) or canvas. She is meticulous in keeping her work clean and tidy, continually checking the accuracy.
The demonstration in acrylics was a portrait of a barn own on mount-board which Kim was copying from another that she had previously painted. She does not favour a stay-wet palette, preferring to work with small quantities of paint. Although she works in layers, Procolour and Chromacolour are favourite brands with a matt finish and higher pigment content than Winsor & Newton or Daler Rowney acrylics, which are too transparent for her purpose. When painting subsequent layers, she leaves small sections of underpainting to suggest layers of feathers. Kim began painting the dark eye of the owl with a No. 1 Series 7 sable brush using tiny strokes and worked outwards, moving the brush in the direction of the feathers in the concave eye area. A No.6 brush was used to paint the gold feathers on the head. Wriggly strokes in a darker colour emphasised the broken edge around the feathered disk around the eye. Pale blue shadows and cream reflected colour areas were scrubbed on with a worn brush. Feather textures were suggested with a small brush between the blue and cream areas. Brushes have to be kept clean in order to achieve the purity of colour which is a feature of her work.
Kim looks for pattern and texture. Areas of the second layer was created with flicking movements and cross-hatching. Softer feathers remained untreated. Cerulean blue, black and white for light grey feathers over the gold body was, in turn, overpainted with darker grey feathers and subtle spotted patterns, avoiding applying the paint too thickly. A cerulean blue and white gouache glaze was applied at the highlight in the eye.
After the break Kim showed slides featuring her illustrations in books and advertisements and her adventurous trips to Botswana, Zambia, the Himalayas and even a remote Scottish island for its birdlife. She sketches and paints in gouache on location as much as possible because it can provide more detailed information than a photograph. In conclusion she urged us all to draw as much as possible.