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How The Voyage of the Peacock Came to Be

Here’s a painting I finished last month, called The Voyage of the Peacock. It’s 20″x 20″. I shared an in-progress shot with you in January and so I thought some of you might be interested to see how it turned out. This isn’t really about how the idea of The Voyage came to be, but the formation of the painting itself. Basically I’m going to take you through the different stages of the painting and what went on in my mind as I was painting it. So let’s start, shall we?

(Click on any image below for a larger and more complete view).

figure 2

It started with looking at the 6″x 6″ version of the painting and thinking, “I want a bigger one. With more details. A painting that feels even more real!” So I went to work and sketched the painting on my black canvas. I blocked in the sky and some of the water (figure 2).

figure 3

I worked on the sky for a little bit and then decided to block in the body of the ship. It’s just good to get as much color in as soon as possible (figure 3). For what it’s worth, I also wanted to paint those peacock wings because I thought they could look pretty cool. When I did they looked like grass growing out of the side of the boat, which was rather unexpected. I thought about leaving it like that, but decided against it because I wanted to paint the feathers.

figure 4

So I drew in  what the feathers would look like on one wing (figure 4). I also decided on red for the sail and worked a bit more on the waves.

figure 5

After painting in the wing feathers, I started working on the tail feathers. The deck began to take shape as well (figure 5).

figure 6

I then turned my attention to the sail. It was the wrong shape so I changed it and I modified the emblem on it as well. It also became more orange and less red at this point.

Then I painted the peacock neck and head. And I was trying to figure out how to brace the mast (because it’s my understanding that masts need bracing) so I decided to put a collar on the peacock with a rope (figure 6). It didn’t look right when I’d finished, though… too cruel or enslaving or something. So I asked people on Instagram and Facebook what they thought and most said the same thing. So I painted it out again. Sorry, mast, you’re on your own.

figure 7

I finished by painting in a tiny ship’s wheel with a little boy steering. I also put a little girl up near the bow, scouting the waters ahead (figure 7). After that I varnished it and got it framed (figure 8). The last step will be photographing it for my records and so I can make prints of it.

figure 8


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