Fresh off the Easel: “In Secret” Fox Painting

I just finished this painting a couple of days ago: “In Secret” 9×12, oil on panel.

Marque Todd - In Secret

It is to be the first in my new series exploring our on-going relationship with animals and nature. On the one hand, our desire is to categorize the natural world and put all that we learn into neatly labeled boxes thinking that this must be the key to understanding. On the the other hand, there is an essence in all living creatures that cannot be so easily labeled. We know innately that each one has a secret life, yet only in half remembered thoughts and dreams do we glimpse them.

The Importance of Studies

I have spent the last couple of weeks working on tonal and color studies for my next painting. I am only sharing a portion of the study (I don’t want to ruin the surprise of the whole piece!). These were both done digitally.

Tonal study – the purpose is to refine the composition and set up the value relationships in the piece, independent of color.



Color study – the purpose is to work out the color scheme to ensure overall harmony



Particularly when working from the imagination studies help to “get it right”. They ensure the compositional elements and drawing details, the value range of the piece and the color harmony all work well together. They offer the 500 foot view road map, so that when I am is on the road (the actual painting) I know where I am going.

It is tempting to either skip the studies all together or do very limited studies. After all the actual painting is the goal – so why go to all the effort? To be honest, this appeals to me too, but I have learned over time that “winging it” creates more problems than it’s worth.

Sneak Peek at New Fox Composition

Here’s a sneak peek of a tonal study that I did for one of my compositions.

Fox head drawing

Fox head drawing

This drawing holds a surprising secret: it was done digitally using Painter X3 software and a 22HD Cintiq (both of which I received for my birthday!). To be honest, even I was impressed at how this drawing looks like I just picked up a pencil and some paper and went to it.

You may be asking why…why not just stick with paper and pencil? The answer is personal, but not that complicated. I am a 21st century gal and I want to use all the tools out there available to me as an artist. Creating compositions and doing tonal and colors studies for new paintings is so much easier digitally, particularly with the sophisticated touch sensitive artist tablets available today. I intend to do my studies digitally to support the development of my traditional paintings.