The Art of Bruce Miller

The anatomy elk painting...

Elk are one of my favorite subjects. This painting went through some major changes along the way. This first shot is from the original layout, canvas has been toned with burnt sienna acrylic. ( I tone with acrylic and do the rest of the painting in oils). This is the bull I had planned to use, started by finishing his head and moved out from there. 



In the next shot below, I have blocked in the foggy background, added the tree/foliage, have the herd outlined, and put in the darks in the foreground.



This is the pic of the original painting finished. I liked it, but the more I looked at it, the more I didn't like the bull. So I went through my elk reference until I found the bull I thought would add more to the painting.


So, back to the 'drawing board". It takes a lot of time to paint the main subject in a painting, however, if I'm not happy, I'll make dramatic changes to get what I want. Especially in a large painting like this 30x40. Here, after careful consideration, I painted out the first bull, waited for it to dry and drew in the new bull.


In this next shot, I have painted in the new bull. I really liked the attitude of this herd bull. They will lift their heads in a defiant manner, and herd the cows and calves together. I also painted out the foreground and repainted with grasses.


But after looking at it for about a week, I decided it wasn't as dynamic as I would have liked. So, with the gallery that handles my work in Jackson, Wy. in mind, I decided to put in the Grand Teton in the back. Here is the outline of the mountain I drew in.


In the end, I painted-in the mountain and new sky. I decided I liked the foreground better in my original painting. An incredible amount of work, but as I always say; "Its never too much work to improve a painting". I will go to great lengths to improve a painting if I think it has good potential. The blue sky, using phthalo blue and viridian, add some great dynamic color to the painting. I stayed very loose with the clouds and new foreground. I used to be afraid of phthalo blue, but have come around to using it for some real rich and accurate sky color.