Goat skull color study by Julie Dyer Holmes, fine artist, Raleigh, NC 2017Painting a Goat Skull

Ah ha - I have discovered that I love painting bones. Why? Because they represent the universal in all of us. I painted this goat skull in April 2017 while I was in Raleigh NC on spring break, away from school. I sense a joy and freedom in this painting because I had the opportunity to paint on my own without interruptions from anyone except the people/critters with whom I live. There was a bit of preparation involved before I could paint this subject. What do I mean? Well, a friend's daughter found this goat skull on a job site in rural NC. But the skull itself was a bit dirty. So I got to figure out the best way to clean this little beaut of a skull. This process actually took several days. But the end result was a pristine, beautiful skull. My first step in the creative process was to do a charcoal drawing of the skull. I find that drawing, either in graphite or charcoal, helps me to see the subject more clearly. I also work out compositional issues in this drawing stage too. Here's the drawing of the skull. Once I finished the drawing, I started the painting process. I decided that I wanted to work pretty quickly on this painting so I wouldn't belabor it. Because there is a strong focus on complete drawing accuracy at school, I feel that some of my paintings can look at bit belabored as a I refine and rework drawing accuracy. The mantra at school is that if I am working on a color study, such as this goat skull, then there is more of a focus on investigating color. This means that I was seeking some neutral colors that represented the plane changes of the skull in natural light. I found that the longer I painted this, the more colors I saw in both the shadows and the lights. That is why I plan to paint this subject matter again (and again and again!) Here's the blog post about this painting, too.  

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