Seagull in storm - work in progress

During the latest winter storm  here in Sweden, I drove to Kullaberg, a beautiful high and rocky headland which reaches out in the Kattegat. This is a favourite destination of mine where I knew the waves would be just about as high as they get around here. The sea is quite deep and the coastline exposed to the north westerly winds.
I took a great number of reference photographs for this painting and combined them to compose this view of a seagull hovering over the waves. The dark rocks served as a backdrop to set off the gull and a contrast to the blue-green foaming waves.

Scroll down and see some step by step shots of the painting in progress...

I started by drawing some guidelines to keep track of the composition. The outline of the gull was taped before painting the dark brown background.

The different shades of the waves blue and green colours where roughly blocked in using thin washes of Ultramarine, Paynes grey, Pthalo blue green and cerulean blue.  Titanium white was painted where the foam should be. I used my fingers to smudge the transitions.

I spent some time painting the different shades of brown in both the rocks and the gull.

The markings and shadows under the gulls wings where rendered in blue, umber and burnt sienna. I added white highlights where the low lying sun touched the outlines of the gull.
 I worked for hours on the details of the frothing waves, using small brushes and feathering any hard lines with a soft dry fan brush.

Covering the gull with a thin wash of
white to bring it forward and
create a contrast to the background 

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