Baa Baa Black Sheep

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Baa Baa Black Sheep / Bae Bae Lille Lam

This little painting is for Conrad, the son of our good friends Cordelia and Jørgen born in December. Hoping I could find reasonably accurate info about Norwegian nursery rhymes, I ventured online to locate a suitable one. I was surprised to find that “Baa Baa Black Sheep” (“Bae Bae Lille Lam”) was one of the rhymes mentioned repeatedly. While the cheery “Sol Ute, Sol Inne” sounded good too, I liked the cultural crossover of  the other and went ahead with it.

The sketch came quickly, so I inked it on the canvas and started painting right away. This is when I realized the first of two issues: I didn’t have a clear idea what color palette I would use here. I’d already painted the canvas a springy, almost minty, green, and had the thought that pointilism in a contrasting tone would really pop out. Now I had an orange and green canvas that just wasn’t looking right at all.

Time out to plan the color palette. My spontaneous coloring was not working out, so after walking around the house a little, I grabbed a few books for inspiration. In one book I found this palette which seemed right, so I picked a few others and made a few Photoshop mockups. I showed them to Alan for a second opinion, and he thought that the first scheme looked best; and that the initials I’d added for Cordelia, Jørgen, and Conrad looked out of place. Somewhere along here I also decided there needed to be a blackbird to balance things out.

Once I had the color scheme, the rest came quickly. I picked up the canvas to paint the edges, and realized I could see the dots better if I could keep moving the canvas around. That’s how I ended up with this one-handed balancing act between the canvas and the round paint palette.

The second issue came to light as I was painting, and noticed that the ink stubbornly came through. I went a little heavier on the paint to break up the lines a bit, but will have to remember to use a lighter hand with the prep sketching in the future. After I finished it up I lacquered it but good with a sturdy finish so it will hopefully survive a baby’s attentions.

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Preparatory sketches

Here’s where I got stuck

That’s more like it

Test run of a few schemes

Left hand = easel

The back view

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