“Let there be airbrushing”: The other Otter – by David Ferrington

David is a Lancastarian living in Switzerland. He is also an honourary Australian and Kiwi, having lived in both countries on and off. This gives him an amazing perspective on the world. He is a graphic designer, photographer, painter, fine artists, musician, composer . . . I doubt there is much that he cannot turn his hand to successfully. He also has a wonderful sense of humour. When he sent through these photos he attached the following sentence . . .

In the beginning was a white piece of paper and the airbrush said . . . let there be spray . . . and there was spray!

I started with the background and moved forward. I didn’t mask the otter. There is no black on this artwork. The background is all hand mixed neutral greys, tonal oranges and purples.

To have someone travel from Switzerland to Australia to learn the Venturi System of realist rendering, this is a wonderful thing and a huge vote of confidence in the training that we offer. It has been an honour to teach him.

I will be writing about David and his inspiring artworks on a regular basis. I hope that you enjoy the knowledge that he imparts that will come from the ongoing conversation between us through these articles.

I had no real idea of how I was going to handle the seaweed and water. I had mixed the raw hues, tonal hue variations and contours before I started. I used the contour colours as my base and then the Tonal Hues. It is wonderful to know that you have all the tools ready, and you can just get in and paint.

One of your major past-times is wildlife photography. It is something that you are very committed time, with time, money and effort. So it comes as no surprise to see you creating beautiful artworks of wildlife.

Q1: What was it about the photos of the Otters that caught your attention – as an artwork project?

I love photos where you can literally see into the animals personality. Here the otter is literally looking into the camera inquisitively. When you look at all the other wildlife artworks of mine, you will see that there is a pattern of me painting artworks where the animal is looking straight at you. There is that moment where the animal realizes that you are there and that they are being watched . . . that is an amazing moment for me.

After the tonal hues, I finished off with the neutral grey and highlight colours. I used the colour corrected white to enable me to add some raw hues over the top.

Q2: How enjoyable is the creative process that you are using now?

It is so much fun. Because you know that you can change the shapes, or change the colours, or the tones, etc . . . that you can rework every aspect of the artwork. It is a lot of pleasure. Things like the seaweed and water . . . I simply worked it over and over until I got the result that I was happy with. It takes the frustration out of painting realist artworks.

Painting the otter was the exciting bit. This was when the whole artwork started to really come together. The otter was actually the easiest part of the whole artwork. Not that any part was particularly hard. But normally the feature animal is the hardest part of the artwork. But not this time.

Q3: I am very proud of my teaching of colour systems. I think it is unique and exciting. But I worry that these systems are a little complex and maybe hard to implement? How have you found using the colour systems from the course when you got back to Switzerland?

It was very easy. You don’t need to have any concerns. I felt like it was a very simple step by step proccess. Choose my hues, then my tonal hues, the coloured greys and then the opaque variations. It was all a very conscious process. It gave me a real sense of security to how I created the artwork.

Creating the textures on the otter meant starting with a dark tonal brown flat base and then creating multiple layers of texture and raw hues and tonal hues between each layer. I used a pencil for the whiskers and the water droplets running down them. I could have done them with a fine brush, but the pencil was a safer option.
I sold the other otter artwork in two days for $1500. So it made sense to create another hot off the press. Its like painting money

Q4: You are best known (with your artworks) for your paintings of blues musicians. What has been the reaction to these wildlife artworks?

I have a substantial following on the internet of my wildlife photography. These people see the paintings and they are just blown away . . . that someone can do art like that . . . and they love it. And there is that aspect of it being hand made, not just a print of a photo. People love that.

Thank you to David Ferrington for making the time to send through all the photos and to agreeing to be interviewed for the article.

Creating wildlife art can be very rewarding. We can teach you to create exciting, vividly colourful, highly accurate artworks of your favourite wildlife.

If you would like more information about the courses across our network of schools in Australia and New Zealand, go to the Airbrush Venturi course timetable, HERE.

If you have questions please ring us on 1300-247-278 (1300 AIRBRUSH) or email us HERE.


Written by Tony Vowles