The Art of Bruce Miller

The Anatomy of a "Big Bison" painting:


30x40 "Big Bison". Here is day 1, I always use a burnt sienna acrylic wash to tone the canvas. I use acrylic gessoed belgian linen, so I can tone quickly and do the drawing over the the wash. Then, the rest of the piece is done with oils. I always get some darks in early, In hindsight, it would have been easier to to the background first, but I wanted to finish the bull and make background decisions later.


Day 2 moved quickly, getting the darks, darker, and putting in the main body colors. 


Day 3/4. I wanted to get the head close to done, put cools in the shadow side of the head and got most of the detail done overall on head. I'm always trying to add texture where I can. Mostly, I try to lay in thick paint in the highlite areas.



Here, I finished the horns, did some more detail-finish work on the head, and put in some foundation work on the body. I always go dark in my foundation work, and lay highlights on top. The darks dry fast and usually the next day, I can start to put in the lighter highlights.



I think this was day 7 or 8, I lose track. In this shot, the bison is done, I put in all the body detail, softened some edges, and generally got him ready for the back and foreground.


This is the finished painting. I missed a key shot of the prep work I did on the background. I went in with some warm greys, darker on the bottom and tapered lighter towards the top. I let some of the warm sienna wash show through to give it a warmer feel. After the grey background, I let it dry, and the next day started the dusty, textured, work.

For the first time, I decided to try using a sponge to put in the dust and background finish work. I had to get a natural sponge online, beause none of the stores in my area had them. The natural sponge has more holes and real texture than the rubber ones. It was tricky getting close to the body, but it also helped break and soften edges. I let all the sponge work dry and layed in the grass with a pallette knife. The original has some nice thick pallette knife texture which is hard to see in the photo.

Overall, I think I got what I originally had in mind, when I conceived the painting. This type of 'in your face painting' has been done before, but I wanted to do one my own way. I think the sponge technique adds something unique, especially the muting of the back legs area. I hope you can feel the motion and impact of this charging bison!