Happy workshop, happy hippo

I often tell people that I never go into a painting with a preconceived notion of what it's going to look like.  In other words, I'm not like that famous sculptor who sees the finished form in the block of granite and just chips away at everything that is not supposed to be there.  Each painting is a journey, the destination of which is unknown to me.

We had a small workshop in Birdsong Studio yesterday.  While I can fit six into the space, four is the most comfortable number, and that is what we had as we painted a hippo.  Young Olivia was back for the second week in a row. 

"This group is a lot more chatty than the last one," said Olivia. 

She was right.  There was this lovely banter going back and forth between the quiet moments of listening to my Bob Dylan Spotify playlist. 


I went into my Happy Hippo painting like I do most others.  I started with lots of warm tones in the first layer.  Underpainting is critically important as it give shape to the piece and adds little flashes of colour long after the final layers get applied. I then started adding a variety of greens and blues to the left side.

I really didn't know where I wanted to go with the background, so I jumped in with leftover colours that I had on my palette, knowing that if they didn't work out, I could always try something else.


I'm convinced that the energy in the space infuses its way into whatever project that I am working on.  It was a great foursome in yesterday's workshop: Olivia, Dave, Cheryl and Jodi. They had so much fun, and that fun found its way into my painting.


I always work on a much larger canvas than the participants.  They were working on 9" x 12" canvas, mine was 20" x 30".  I started to get rather tired by the two and a half hour mark, so I put my brushes down and chose to finish up the Happy Hippo after a nap and dinner.  That rest made all the difference in the world.  Here is the finished product.


If you're interested in this one-of-a-kind painting of the Happy Hippo, or a canvas print of it, just connect with me via the Russell Thomas Art Facebook page or send me an email: russell.thomas@birdsongconnections.com.

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