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Here I'm shading some of the scarred areas of the bucks neck to show the hint of some old sparring wounds. This is actually the largest brush I use on these sandstone paintings. For the detail I prefer a brush with only 3 or 4 hairs. The stone actually sands down a brush pretty fast leaving it useless. I'll often burn up a half dozen brushes on one of thee pieces.
I prefer the look of the natural stone. There are other artists who work on stone but they tend to put some kind of varnish over the stone to seal it so it is easier to paint on. I think it ruins the natural look to do that so I leave my stones as they were in nature. It is much more difficult to lay down the detail, but the reward is worth the extra hassle
I use primarily Kansas sandstone and blue shale limestone for my stone paintings. The blue stone is from a source at the bottom of a spring that only measures about 30 feet wide and 8 feet deep. I only pick the pieces that come to the surface naturally. There are maybe 10 pieces of that stone left so it is getting quite rare. I'll be posting a mule deer and a bobcat painting on that stone in the near future. The Sandstone comes right out of river bottoms in Chautauqua County, Kansas. It is naturally smooth and the perfect thickness. I let a piece ride in my truck bed for a couple of weeks so it bounces and breaks where it is naturally weak. This a trip to the car wash and at most I'll rub two pieces together to knock of any high spots or burrs. Then after drying in the sun for a few days I draw in an outline with black acrylic and fill it in to make a black silhouette from which the entire painting is built up using tiny brush strokes of paint. (I'll photograph the next one in stages so you can see the process).
Here you can see the interwoven layers of hair giving the buck that salt and pepper coloring that is present in older grizzled monarchs of the timber.
Close-Up of face detail. Those whiskers are tough to do in acrylic. Oils are easier but they take to long to dry to suit my style and I have some of these in the studio that I painted 20 years ago in acrylic and they look as fresh and beautiful today as they did when they were painted.
Here is the eye detail this is really blown up way beyond normal viewing. If you squint while looking at this picture it will appear more like looking at the stone from normal viewing distance and you will be amazed at how accurate and photo realistic one of these paintings can be with that deer eye looking right at you.