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Chasing the unicorn

Normally when I paint a picture its of one thing like a person, or a landscape,  I will work from real life or photos, or sometimes both. I put my own artistic input into it, with my creativity and make the painting more exciting than the image I am taking it from. Occasionally, I have been asked to copy something exactly the same as another painting I’ve done. And although you would think that was easy to do, since of course I’ve already done the creativity part and this is JUST a *copy* – but it actually means that I have to restrain my creativity on being creative, and replicate the way I was feeling when I painted the first painting, which in this particular case was a few years ago in 2007 – this is the first picture here, the first unicorn. Unicorn

Unicorn 2 drawingIn this particular instance it was to re-do the unicorn painting that was originally 9.5 x 7.5 to the new dimensions of 20 x 14 – so near enough twice the size. The first painting is currently hanging on a wall in Derbyshire so I had to work from the photo I have of it. This was actually really useful to know, as the client had seen the photo online of it, so it was that he was relating to and loved, those bright colours and the specific shapes of it. So, my job was to repaint that image.


I first applied my watercolour paper to a board and stuck it firmly in place with gummed tape. This meant the paper wouldn’t buckle and move when I painted water and watercolours to it.


I drew out the image onto the paper – only the moon and the unicorn are the actual shapes in the painting, but Unicorn 2 first washsince it was a copy I had to get the colouring of the background colours in exactly the same place too so had to make rough sketches of their placing of the picture too.


When that was done, the next bit, when it gets exciting and I can get the colours on – so I painted the first wash of background colours so that I knew where they all should be.


When that was dry I could paint the second wash of background colours, brightening some, toning in others, and making them all blend together nicely by glazing one colour over another to give it a harmonious feel.


Unicorn 2 second washWhen I was happy that I had the basis of the background colours starting to form, I then painted the moon and unicorn. They were of the same delicate creamy colours as they inter-react to each other in the painting, but since the unicorn is in the foreground and the more important part of the painting, the colours for it were more warm and pure than the muted tones of the distant moon. I put in the light tones, then the medium ones, then the darker ones to give more form to the unicorn, although there weren’t any full features as such, as this painting is quite simple.


When I was happy the unicorn and moon were complete, then I re-worked over the darks of the background, and made the medium tones more vibrant particularly the reds and deep turquoise shades.Unicorn 2 third wash


The final part was to put some splatter of red around the unicorn signifying the energies and magical power of it and I used a little white gouache for the unicorn around the mane and tail to illustrate movement and life.


There, done! As close a copy as I could get to the original working from a card that I have of the original picture. And in a way far more difficult than painting the original… But I love the bright colours in this, I have adored painting it again! My unicorn re-visited.. and its happily gone off to hang on a wall in Berkshire now…..


Unicorn 2 comparrison

Unicorn 2

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