Otterly fun

I haven’t painted an otter for quite some time, so it was the day to rectify this oversight.

I wanted to do something a little different from before and decided an otter sticking his head round a rock to see what’s going on, would be a fun composition. The palette of colours were left over from the greyhound painting and I don’t like to waste paint!

I did a thumbnail sketch, as I was working from a number of sources and putting them together. I then sketched it on to a prepared canvas.

I have been teaching negative painting during the week, so perhaps that is why I decided to paint the foreground in this way. I splattered with some masking fluid (the yellow dots), as those would be drops of water on his whiskers. My masking fluid was disgusting, so the pot was chucked once I had used the end drips.


Starting with the lovely button eyes, I established the shadow side of the otter.


I then threw caution to the wind and did a rather scary background. I thought my backgrounds had been rather bland of late. I also used clingfilm to get the coat’s texture and just for good measure used the edge of a big brush to work on the foreground.


At this point I thought I had utterly ruined it. The trouble is watercolour dries so much lighter – up to 50% on canvas. So with the otter dry and the background wet, the balance was hideous. Added to half of it being literally under wraps, I was not a happy-chappy.

Anyway, at this point it was bed time (I have a stinking cold), so I hoped the little elves would work a miracle over night….

Next morning, I lifted the clingfilm, rubbed off the masking and assessed. I added a stripe of wash across the eye area – just seemed to need it and then had whiskery fun. Oh and darkened those eyes.


Once he is truly dry, I will seal and varnish, but for now, I rather like him. I might sleep on it and consider lightening the background above his head – what do you reckon?

2 thoughts on “Otterly fun”

  1. Thank you. That was what I was aiming for. I took him into one of my galleries and the assistant did ask if he was a ferret!! I had a little explanation about river and sea otters, but I am constantly surprised by how little people know about wildlife! I decided to laugh rather than be offended….. Ho, Ho, Ho….

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

1 × 4 =