Omar Rayyan pays special attention to colour, lighting and composition, and takes inspiration from past painters for his fun fantasy scene
Omar Rayyan paints a ferret!
For this workshop, I’ll be painting a ferret with a flagon. The composition will have an outdoors setting with an early European feel. The challenges will be to render fur, armour, wet wood, ceramic, glass, and brick, all in a jolly outdoor pub setting!
My influences on this piece are 15th century Flemish tavern paintings and 19th century French master Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier and in particular, his painting The Card Players. I often look to the painters of the past for ideas.
I want to paint a happy chap, and because it’ll be a single character image, have him addressing the viewer, to share in his happiness with his frothy beverage.
That settled, the look and anatomy of ferrets begin to dictate the design of the piece. Ferrets are long bodied and stubby nosed, with short arms and legs, so it’ll be fun to break up the slinky body with armour and clothing that at the same time show off his long, wiggly body.
The challenge will be to evoke a traditional drinking portrait, but with fun and whimsy. The attitude of the drinker is crucial, so initially I don’t put much consideration into the colour palette, because warm, earth tones should work well. However, as you’ll see, simple earth tones can quickly become a dance of balancing warms and colds, yellows and reds, against blues and cool browns.
The light is an outdoor, al fresco atmosphere, made possible by the gloom of the shadows. The light quality will be dictated by textures, metal, wood, cloth and so on. By exploring these qualities I’ll inadvertently be painting the sunnier side, as shadow describes light.
I also consider how the feret sits in the scene. A tall, thin, wiggly figure will need some kind of support, aside from the table. Early on in the painting process, the building architecture with a window comes in as suitably strong geometry against which to play the animal’s drunken movement, while the barrel acts as a weight and wedge to hold the lower half of the subject in place.
The fun of entering a ‘simple’ single subject is a great opportunity to focus on the complex power every seemingly simple element exerts on the whole.