Okapi Girl

Illustration of a girl sitting on a chair in a landscape with a bird in her hand and an okapi in front of her, by Els Vlieger

I just fished another gouache painting on paper featuring a girl with an okapi and a bird in a West Highland inspired landscape. In this post I’ll quickly show you my sources of inspiration and the process of the various stages.

Before there was any painting it started with another daily sketch for Inktober on Instagram last month.

Here it is:

initial sketchbook drawing, by Els Vlieger

It was inspired by the gorgeous photo of a girl sitting in front of decayed wallpaper by the talented British photographer Julia Bostock. I was attracted by the whole melancholic atmosphere and the lovely composition.

Sitting girl, photo by Julia Bostock
photo by Julia Bostock

This image would be ideal for my next painting I figured.

The girl had to be seated on the same type of chair, but in a wide landscape with animals surrounding her. I sketched a lot of different animals, but in the end only two of them stayed in the picture. One being my favorite, the okapi.

initial drawing, by Els Vliegerinitial drawing, by Els Vliegerinitial drawing with painted details of the face of a girl, by Els Vlieger

For the okapi I added book paper scraps and some texture. This coming from a box filled with paper goodies, wrapping paper and all sorts of package material that I keep for these mixed media occasions.

detail of the okapidetail of the okapiwork in progress, on my table Okapi Girl

It might not be typical to first finish the figures in a painting, and only later add the landscape, but that’s the way I like it best.

And this way I could also make a quick scan of the figures only, which might come in handy when for instance I only need an okapi for another project. Or when I screwed up all together…

Illustration of a girl sitting on a chair in a landscape with a bird in her hand and an okapi in front of her, by Els Vlieger

Finally the landscape was added in the background. For this I used another photo of a beautiful West Highland landscape from our own archive.

Illustration of a girl sitting on a chair in a landscape with a bird in her hand and an okapi in front of her, by Els Vlieger

The typical abandoned, roofless home in the middle of nowhere I’ve seen so many times in Scotland last summer.

abandoned house in the Highlands in Scotland

And some more details.

The pattern on the girl’s blouse -some pretty edelweiss flowers- were chosen after I saw them in a popular Belgian quiz on tv. How funny the way inspiration works:)

Illustration with detail of a girl with bird and okapiillustration detail of boots of a girl

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