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Samantha Sewell

I would like some advice whether it be from Matt or from any of the other members on this site.

I’ve been struggling with this commission for around 6 months (the clients are family friends, and luckily very patient and understanding!)
They’d asked for a painting of a zebra similar to one of my previous paintings, which was of a giraffe made of galaxies, so I did a zebra made of lightning (the orange and brown one; I somehow messed up with the pictures so there are duplicates of the first and second plant zebras)
I had another idea to do a zebra made of plants, and they liked the idea so much that they paid me in advance to do that for them as well.

1. My first attempt was too close to the face, I think, so it’s very difficult to distinguish it’s a zebra without obvious shapes of the head.

2. In my second attempt, I decided that I wanted to do a mother and baby zebra and tried to make it easier to see them as zebras. However I found that leaving the background white didn’t look appealing to me, so I began to paint the gaps between the flowers in a dark blue with white and gold lines, and the background behind their heads in black. But it would be too fiddly to paint the blue around the flowers, and many of the artists I admire paint in layers which gives their pieces a cohesive together-ness which I didn’t think this piece would have if I continued in that way.

3. My third attempt is the closest I’ve come to what I want; I transferred my sketch from zebras #2 with charcoal, and painted the block colours with blue and black acrylic (leaving the mother’s eye area white so the gouache paint would be brighter and so draw the attention there first)
I’m quite happy with the mother’s eye, but definitely not with the baby’s, and I began painting leaves and flowers under the eyes, however I hadn’t studied enough flowers and plants for them to look good. My frustration with wanting to finish this darn piece also played a part in me not putting much of an effort into the flowers.

I’ve been struggling with this painting for so long now that I’ve built it up in my head, and I’ve been avoiding it most of the time because I feel like it has to be so amazing since it’s taken me so long to create it.


I want to try again one last time, and make it *the one* so I can finally move past it, since it’s become this physical manifestation of a mental and artistic block.

The painting is on paper, but I found after painting the background that it doesn’t cope with paint very well as the edges curled a lot. I want to do the final painting on possibly wood instead (size A2), or any other smooth surface since I don’t enjoy working on texture.

Can you give me some advice on:

– The colour scheme (I know that I want the background to be black and the heads to be blue, but I’m not sure about the colours of the eyes, the leaves & flowers as the stripes, the arum lilies that will be the ears, and the grass that will make up their manes)

– … and anything else you can think of to make my painting the best that it can be, and to help me finally finish it!


Thank you very very very much for reading this, I know it’s a long read but I just had to get it all out haha. I hope you can help!


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