Monthly Archives: July 2017

oil painting of red yellow orange wyvern hunting a caterpillar among branches
Wyvern Hunting, 11"x14" oil painting

Lunch or dinner?

I finished this piece back in May. Wyvern Hunting is now varnished, framed, and ready for display at Gen Con. Loose prints area available through my online store, and I will have both loose and matted prints with me for sale at Gen Con.

Read on for a peek at some of the process.


This piece was initially inspired by a photo I took YEARS ago on a trip in Arizona.

photo of bird in a bush by christine mitzuk
This photo I took while on a trip in Arizona inspired my Wyvern Hunting painting







pencil on vellum drawing of a wyvern type dragon sitting on a branch staring at a caterpillar by christine mitzuk
An initial idea for Wyvern Hunting. Pencil on Vellum.

Here's a VERY early version. At this point I decided the gesture and design of the creature needed something more. I decided the "lying in wait" pose wasn't interesting enough, it needed to be more dynamic so I thought about how some birds sort of waddle down a branch and how their heads and necks move in relation to their bodies.

As part of the process for this piece I went on a "field trip" to a local reptile shop. They kindly gave me permission to take photos, without flash, of their critters. I found this extremely helpful because I could then study a variety of reptiles from different angles.

pencil drawing on vellum of wyvern type dragon hunting a caterpillar by christine mitzuk
Pencil drawing on vellum

I did studies of skulls, scales, and various animal skeletons in an effort to better understand what might be going on with my Wyvern. Then I came up with this version.

Something wasn't quite working. I'm thankful for the input I received at IlluXCon from an artist who specializes in creatures. He suggested a few body mechanic changes and suggested I create a maquette. (A while back I posted about the maquette I created for this project).

pencil drawing on vellum of wyvern type dragon hunting a caterpillar by christine mitzuk
Pencil on vellum.

Here's the final drawing. I created a line drawing on Canson Vidalon Vellum, scanned it in for later use, then completed the drawing with values on the other side of the vellum.

(The drawing is currently available for purchase. Contact me with inquiries).




drawing of wyvern type dragon hunting a caterpillar among branches by christine mitzuk
Wyvern Hunting drawing on vellum (various pencils used: graphite, white Conté, and Creatacolor Nero).








Digital color added to scanned pencil drawing of a wyvern hunting a caterpilar
Digital color added to scanned pencil drawing

This time around, I made a few digital color studies. They helped me get the color idea in the ballpark and then I just decided to dive in and paint.


Nature is one of the best places from which to gather reference. I've been working on a piece that is set during twilight. Using my memory, I made several attempts at a twilight color and value scheme in color studies but the look and feel just wasn't coming across. I was trying to get that feeling of the gauzy, dusty, purplish-blue light that seems to cover everything in certain twilight situations I've seen here in Minnesota.

I needed more information. I needed to do some studies from life.

oil paint studies of a creature in twilightA toy dinosaur of similar color to the creature in my painting made a great stand-in set up outside at twilight. The three attempts all happened on different nights with relatively clear sky because there's only about 30-45 minutes to study the general twilight lighting I wanted.
First attempt: Painted all in natural light outside. Toy, canvas, and paint all under the same natural light. When I brought everything inside, the painted study looked like the toy in regular light.
Second attempt: Painted from memory, and using the first study as a guide for shapes. I thought dusty purple was the way to go for the light parts but it still didn't look right.
Third attempt: I set up outside again. The toy was in natural light. I purchased a two-headed LED music stand clip-on light to shine on my canvas and palette. The packaging doesn't list the Kelvin temperature of the light. To me it seems to be a fairly neutral "white light" if not maybe shifted a little cool. Either way, this made a huge difference for my twilight study. I was able to separate what I was seeing on the toy from what I was painting. I like this third attempt the best and will be using the information I gathered about values and colors in my imaginative piece.

Colors used: Permalba White, Winsor Yellow (PY4), Gamblin Quinacridone Magenta (PR122), Gamblin Manganese Blue Hue (PB 15:4), Gamblin Napthol Scarlet (PR 188), Winsor & Newton Permanent Green (PY 138, PG7, PW6), Utrecht Ultramarine Blue (PB29). The first two studies I used pretty much all these colors. The third attempt I used primarily the white, yellow, magenta, and manganese blue hue.

While searching the internet for tips on plein air painting at night, or nocturnes, or plein air at twilight, I found James Gurney's post about painting at night Thanks Mr. Gurney! He lists several different little lights. I ended up going to my local music store and purchased a portable, battery operated, dual-head gooseneck music stand light.

oil painting plein air box with canvas on board and light shining on it
My plein air set up with the clip-on dual-head gooseneck led light