On Tuesday, Island painter and Rhode Island School of Design student Jack Yuen set up an 18-by-24 inch canvas on the deck of Bad Martha’s Brewery in Edgartown. With the scent of hops and Donnaroma’s Landscape nursery as his background, Mr. Yuen felt at home as he began to sketch out the bones of his live painting.

“I would consider myself a naturalist,” he said, wetting a paintbrush in his pint-sized mason jar. “I just fit that bill. I love being outside and getting dirty.”

Tuesday was Mr. Yuen’s third live painting this summer. Before he put any paint on the canvas, Mr. Yuen started with pencil, outlining the neck, head, ears and horns of a giraffe from a picture he took while traveling in South Africa.

“It was an amazing moment,” Mr. Yuen said. “The giraffe came right up to the vehicle. I didn’t see it until it was there. I’ve been waiting to do this painting.”

Mr. Yuen is a 2015 graduate of the regional high school. He now attends the Rhode Island School of Design. — Maria Thibodeau

With onlookers peering over his shoulder, Mr. Yuen began to shade the painting’s background, using broad, light brushstrokes that matched the angle of the shadows from the beer garden’s latticework. On the left side of the painting, he deftly lathered on a sky-colored turquoise acrylic. On the right, he mixed in a beige, orange, sandy hue, with shadows demarcating the painting’s bisection of color.

“Most of the things that I paint are image-based,” Mr. Yuen said. “I gravitate toward things with eye-contact, so I really like to focus on wildlife animals and people.”

After adding some darks and outlining the animal, a giraffe began to come into focus. Mr. Yuen then squeezed a bright red Amsterdam acrylic onto his palette, and started to blotch spots onto the its neck, keeping an eye on his photograph.

“Everything I do is based on intuition,” Mr. Yuen said. “It’s also low-fi [meaning inexpensive]. I like putting things together.”

He uses acrylic, a more economical paint than oil, almost 100 per cent of the time, and covered a piece of white foam board in saran wrap to create his palette. About an hour into the painting, and the makeshift palette, dotted with reds, blues, beiges, and oranges, started to look like a piece of art as well — a much more abstract piece of art, of course.

A lot of artists mix all their paints. Mr. Yuen often just uses colors straight out of the tube. He works methodically, but fast for a painter, focusing on bright colors and technical accuracy. He paints for minutes, then steps back about 10 to 15 feet to look at the canvas.

“It’s all about balance and spacing. I’ve been trying to get more accurate with respect to the animal’s physical form. The thing about accuracy is that it gives automatic respect to the piece, but I totally think informality can be just as impactful. So I try to blend them both.”

Painting was based on a photograph he took in South Africa. — Maria Thibodeau

He starts with a vision for the painting, but the end product often looks much different than the image, especially in color. With the giraffe, Mr. Yuen decided to use brighter colors than those in the photograph, highlighting contrasts with whites, purples, reds, and blues.

“I try do what the picture can’t,” he said, “while keeping a consistent poetic language throughout the project.”

“The emotion comes in between when I’m not looking at the photo,” he continued. “Letting my intuition take over. There’s really no method for that.”

At one point, a gust of wind blew the image of the giraffe off the ground, revealing the same picture with the Toys R Us logo beneath. A giraffe is Toys R Us’s mascot.

“It was originally going to be a darker painting,” Mr. Yuen explained. He wanted to paint the Toys R Us decal in a graffiti-style beneath the animal. “The giraffe is so interesting when you see it in person; you see their complexity and detail and liveliness, whereas so many people just know them as a cartoon.”

By the time the painting neared completion, many brewery patrons, amazed at the giraffe’s likeness, came up to the painter who hadn’t left his feet for over three hours. He humbly accepted their compliments, finally able to toss off his flip flops.

“I don’t know if I need painting,” Mr. Yuen said. “But I’ve also never gone for long without it. I’m always going to be doing it.”