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Step-by-Step - "Ellie" the loggerhead turtle

It’s interesting looking back on progress shots I take of some of my paintings.

Do you have any to share?

While we are on the road with our caravan I am concentrating on my turtle paintings so when I return home I can go back to my seascapes and prepare for an exhibition. I’ve taken quite a few progress shots of my turtles and this week I would like to share “Ellie” with you. She is a large loggerhead turtle that laid her eggs in the walkway of the Beachside Caravan Park in Yeppoon a couple of years ago. This painting now takes pride of place in the office of the Park and is named after me by her new owners :) :)

"Ellie" the loggerhead turtle with her new owner and Carole Elliott

I completed this painting in Atelier Interactive acrylics on watercolour paper from a series of photographs provided to me. The original photo was of the turtle sitting on damp sand, however I thought she would look nicer sitting on the wet sand with some of the seafoam showing and lots of lovely reflections so I used some Artistic licence and moved her down the beach a bit :)


Step 1

Step 1

I painted the paper the colour of the sand and then transferred my drawing of the turtle onto it. I then used bronze and gold acrylic paint to block in the shape of the turtle.

Step 2

Just to make things difficult, I decided the turtle would look nicer sitting on the wet sand so overpainted the sand colour with a thin layer of water colour using ultramarine blue + white, leaving some of the sand showing through. This had to be done a number of times in order to cover the sand, however I didn’t want it completely covered in some areas. I also blocked in the seafoam and greyed in where the reflection would be.

Step 3

This is where the turtle started coming to life and I actually like the look of this stage. I started introducing some colour to her which is more like a tonal map ready for layering of colours. I also blocked in a bit of a reflection just to give me an idea of how it would look.

Step 4

I started putting some of the detail into her face and around her neck, her right flipper and some of her left flipper. Unfortunately ultramarine blue shows up a lot lighter when photographed so the shadow area on the left of her face looks too light, as well as the water. When I’m painting in the detail I always start with the face to allow the character of the turtle to show through.

Step 5

I’m now concentrating on layering colour onto the turtle’s shell, which involved a bit of fiddling until I felt happy with it. The markings on the front flipper were then painted in just before my concentration waned for the afternoon.

Step 6

I started by fixing up a couple of areas I wasn’t happy with and then completed the left flipper and blocked in a bit more of the reflection. I expected to have some problems with this area as I didn’t have a proper reference photo to follow so decided to call it a day and work on it with a fresh eye.

Step 7

I worked on the reflections which turned out better than I expected without too much stress. Lastly I completed the seafoam and reworked any highlights and shadows. Woop! Finished :)

The final step didn’t involve me … the new owner named her “Ellie” and took her to get a lovely new frame. Doesn’t she look lovely!

"Ellie" the loggerhead turtle with her new owner and Carole Elliott

I post quite a few progress shots of current projects on my Facebook Artist page if you are interested in following me:


Supporting Others

50% from the sale of my turtle paintings is donated to organisations involved with turtle rescue and rehabilitation in Queensland, Australia. You can view more of my turtle paintings here:!turtle-paintings/lp5s1


Please share my page with anybody you know who loves turtles :)

Happy painting :)


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