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Large Snail Studies (step by step)

I’ve been studying my snail Cuthbert, and really learning a lot of interesting facts. I know they’re slimy, strange little creatures that eat your garden plants, but they still merit study in my opinion. So I went outside the strange thing was I just walked over to a huge Sycamore tree and felt directed to look right at it’s base in the long grasses, tucked between some big roots. I pulled the grass aside and there, lo and behold two snails! I must have felt the “Snail Vibes” hahah.

big snail photo

big snail photo

One of the snails was this big guy (or girl!) that has now been named “Jabba the Hut”! He’s munching on some sweet corn here. Enjoy the simple stages of painting in watercolor shown below, to give you an idea of how I paint them.

big snail stage 1- ink

big snail stage 1- ink

First I did drawings using light pencil, then go over it my micro permanent pen, keeping it simple and cartoon-like so I could add the detail with watercolor.

big snail stage 2

big snail stage 2

Then I look at the snails to see what pale color I see ‘underneath’ the other darker colors. I make a wash of this color and put it on, and while it’s wet, sometimes I drag a bit more of the wash or color into areas I want darker, with the tip of my brush.

big snail stage 3

big snail stage 3

Here you can see I’m just adding a bit more details and colors, keeping it simple. Look for dark patterns and be careful to leave light or white areas alone.

big snail stage 4

big snail stage 4

Sorry my stages kind of jumped here, I think I got busy and didn’t photograph any more stages! But all I did was kept looking for pattern, colors and shapes, let areas dry before adding new patterns so it doesn’t all blur together. If it does, take your paper towel tip and push it on the area to blot it, rub with brush tip and repeat until you get it lightened. You can add dappley marks with your brush tip for texture.

big snail stage 4 + paint

big snail stage 4 + paint

This is my sketch book along side my pan of watercolors, this is what I used to paint them.

Hope you enjoyed more snail studies!

More Snail Studies, Cuthbert Grows!

Well my snail has been named as I said before, “Cuthbert”, after St. Cuthbert the patron Saint of Northumberland. I did some more studies of him as he’s growing.

Cuthbert close-up, in color

Cuthbert close-up, in color

This is a close up of the watercolor study I did, it’s shown below first as a black and white ink.

Pages 2 + 3 studies in ink

Pages 2 + 3 studies in ink

Click on the images to read my notes. Cuthbert has already grown a few millimeters; the dark part on his shell is new growth.

Page 2 of colored studies

Page 2 of colored studies

Here’s the same studies colored in with watercolor.

Page 3 of colored studies

Page 3 of colored studies

This is the last page of my studies. I added to these pages on different days until I filled the two pages, but most was done in the first sitting.

Well Cuthbert says hello and goodbye, time to go and eat more carrots!  Don’t worry, more snail sketches coming again!  Don’t forget to visit my shop to see glossy note cards and other gifts with my sketches, paintings and photographs on them.

“I Made Friends with a Snail!” May 22, 2010

On the coffee pot

Today is a tale of meeting a snail, hmm…I feel a poem coming on…maybe later.

We went to Alnmouth and explored all around the dunes and on the beach. As we walked between the great high dunes to reach the beach, I couldn’t resist stopping to pick up so many pretty coiled shells.  I didn’t have my usual field painting bag with me so I ended up filling my little purse! Those that were packed with sand I plopped into a dish of water to soak once I got home.  Imagine my surprise when the next morning I found one of the ‘shells’ crawling up my coffee pot! (Lucky it wasn’t on!)

Well I quickly made his acquaintance and before you knew it he had food and shelter. At first he lived in a little plastic jar with the lid on very loosely on, but now he’s in a glass jar on it’s side with nice mosses to hide under.  Click on the page below and read the notes I wrote as I painted his picture that day.

Snail Studies pg 1

Snail Studies pg 1

My set up with the Model

My set up with the Model

Here’s my set up while I painted him, he was on the little plate with lettuce etc. but then slide off, and went up the brass lamp about halfway, this is when I took a bathroom break! When I returned I put him on top of my waterbottle, for this picture. I’m using the watercolor pan I take in the field with me all the time, it’s got a good selection of half pans. I used permanent ink marker to draw over my penciled sketches then used watercolor with regular brushes to color. On the right side you can see a rectangle shaped silver thing, that’s my little light up magnifier for reading maps; it’s great for field work.

Close up of snail studies

Close up of snail studies

Here’s a close up of two of the snail studies with notes.

"Escargo Escapee!"

"Escargo Escapee!"

This painting makes me laugh, I did it with just watercolors. He was escaping from the plate…so I called it “Escargo Escapee”…he didn’t want to give me any ideas when I was hungry! The funny thing is I think he’s a copse snail…so a copse snail is escaping…but shouldn’t he be a robber snail then? (Oh gosh I know that’s corny!)

Cuthbert the snail with the shells I found

Cuthbert the snail with the shells I found

One more picture for now, more to come soon. I love this shot of him with the empty shells I found…poor thing, he’s probably crawling around them saying,”Where’d everybody go?” I decided to name him Cuthbert after the Patron St. of Northumberland, we found him near the cross for St. Cuthbert in Alnmouth.

Here’s a great website I found on snails, this page has a diagram on shell parts and helps with identifying your snail:

http://www.petsnails.co.uk/documents/species/idyoursnail.html#start

And another one all about British wildlife and countryside that I’ll be using,UK Safari. Here’s the page that looks like my snail:

http://www.uksafari.com/gardensnail.htm

I have already drawn more pages of sketches and I’m recording changes in his shell growth. Please come back soon to see what happens to him!  I have created some really neat gifts with these snail images on them, please have a look and pass the link to my shop onto your friends!

http://www.zazzle.com/marymcandrew/gifts?cg=196997618923146905

More paintings and studies coming soon of new snails I found!