Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why does a painting express so much? What does an artist do to make it so expressive? Questions all artist's wish they had a concrete answer for. The one answer I live by is having something in front of or behind all things: breaking a plane in art terms. Would this bird be so connected to us if the branch in front were removed? Nature is nothing if not about connections. By showing the bird in the tree we remove the angst of isolating the bird. So we see it as simply "there." Breaking a plane is the simplification that works every time!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

This quick watercolor of a Harris' Hawk shows the energy of the real hawk. Painter's that want to show what it "looks like" often concentrate too much on the surface and not the internal qualities of their images. Brushstrokes that are loose and expressive help determine the feel of a watercolor. Even original brushstrokes under the final brushstrokes help the viewer "see" the animal and allows the viewer to bring what they know to an image. It is the reason we connect to art!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This fledgling I assume is a ruby-throat because I live in Vermont. I find the energy of the bird as interesting as the coloring and brushstrokes can help explain motion.
What is the essence of the bird for you? Their shape can be very contorted when they reach up to the bird feeder, but this pose is restful.
Painting birds is a challenge!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Birds for years, have interrupted my view of a distant landscape. I came to birding because these fabulous creatures were always part of the landscape. I would stop my landscape painting to do a quick portrait of the bird in my view.
My own paintings taught me how birds connect the landscape, and it is how I see and paint the birds. They are the motion stirring the land and flitting through branches and they compel me to see. Learn how you see nature by looking at a series of your paintings which shows you what is important!

Friday, July 12, 2013

"Western Bluebird" watercolor 4" x 6" $85

Western Bluebirds landed on the barbed wire in Big Horn, WY last week and surprised me while I oil painted the Big Horn Mountains. This time I had my watercolors and quickly made a sketch.
Often the bird is only half visible and hidden by leaves, branches or rocks.
This was so in the open, with his mate close by. what a treat especially because they are less common every year. Feral Cats are a big problem for birds! I say keep cats indoors, so we can balance nature.

Friday, July 5, 2013

"Lark Sparrow" oil 4"x 6"

This Lark Sparrow surprised me at lunch one day. I didn't have my watercolors ready because I had a sandwich in my hands and friends eating with me.
Like a poem I memorized the markings and repeated the colors over and over so I would be able to paint the bird and look it up in my bird book.
What a beautiful bird!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Ruby Throats watercolor 5"x 10"

Ruby Throats were everywhere on Hog Island, Maine, when I was there last week. I painted this while we discussed "painter's block." Our facilitator, Julie Zuckefoose had a great quote from a writer who said it takes a really, really, really long time to write a book, if one does not write.
Painters unite and doodle(paint) while listening. Your innate sense of design will take over and voila, like these Ruby Throats, you have a painting. Let them add up and  enjoy a group of "doodles" with a friend.
In the Big Horns (trip right after Hog Island) we had art shows. Work was leaned against the tires and taped to the side of the RV! Granite peaks, passing clouds and all the campers stopped by to see great art.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

This image is an oil but I often challenge myself to  watercolor from copying one of my oils. This way I use layered colors and more color and the result is a classically painted watercolor. I start with the warm yellow-oranges(not tangerine red!) then add reds under the dark colors and then go directly to my darks. Three steps and I use a light brushstroke to layer paint. The highlights on the egret will have been left from the original yellow-orange wash.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Evening Grosbeaks 4"x 6"

Evening Grosbeaks come to my feeder and I paint furiously for the few minutes that I have to paint and watch them with my naked eye. All the birds feel impossible to replicate but afterwards, its not the feathers and markings as much as the moment in time that is recorded. And the joy of being there!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Junco" watercolor 4"x6" $65

Juncos and the first flocks of Spring migrants that come to my yard. I love their hooded body and ground pecking behaviors. Where are those characteristics in this watercolor?
Painters are easily distracted and I was. Look how the background was worked and the black/grey and white bird was only vaguely captured. Another watercolor will solve that and in the meantime I am enjoying this watercolor. Perhaps I will save the name junco for the next watercolor!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Little sanderlings skittered in front of the waves on the beach and I painted them quickly in watercolors. Later, I didn't "feel" the sanderlings, which had excited me at the beach. I decided to remove the color on the bird's head and back which was making it so heavy, dark and "slow". These are fast and delicate birds. The edges make this painting-the hue, shapes, and brushwork are common. So, watch how a painting can be worked and worked till it feels right. Note how the series of dots add motion.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Here is a page from my watercolor journal painted on Sanibel Island, FL. There are two distinct brush techniques. The top image, a Ruddy Turnstone, was made by applying paint. It became darker and darker. The brush is continually loaded with paint. The lower image, Sanderlings, has a different technique. First the paint is applied and then it is removed. I used a clean brush with water and scrubbed the paint off. It leaves beautiful "edges".
Some painters believe a great painting is all about edges!

Friday, March 8, 2013

            Here is a quick study of a Red Tail Hawk. What makes it interesting? Is it the shape of the bird or the shapes including the telephone pole? It is almost the right answer! The pole shows two sides and vaguely so does the hawk. Don't forget to add "sides" to clouds, beaches, rocks, mountains as well as birds and objects. Then they become "forms" and  three-D.
The hawk has a puffy chest because the gold brings if forward. The cool lavender paper recedes behind the image. Note how you don't mind the blotch/mistake. It is because you are not responsible for it! Be kind to your paintings and let them have flaws-they are like our friends and ourselves!                              

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Here is a simple dark and light watercolor. Indigo for the background set off by lemon yellows. They are in the cool range of colors and therefore analogous colors. Touches of pinks and ochres add the warmth that a painting needs to be embraced.
Try painting any image against a dark rich background. Your in good company, Winslow Homer loved it too.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

This little house wren was flirting behind leaves and hard to see. Painting it this way creates the habitat and context and relaxes the often stiff composition from a bird out of its habitat or with nothing in front of it.
Using the same values in both the bird and brush enhances its mystique. We don't call them little grey(brown) birds for nothing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sandhill Cranes glide after riding thermals to unreal heights and that is why they are called birds of heaven by author Peter Matthesson. This is not a watercolor, but try using oils or any medium for birding and painting. This would be a beautiful image in watercolors!