Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Cooper's Hawk" 2-21-08

I was inspired on Tuesday (19th) to paint a Cooper's Hawk when I saw one (or a Sharp Shinned Hawk) swoop over my bird feeder. I talked about it in my post on the 19th. So I did this small study from a field guide in my 5"x81/2 " sketchbook. First I did a "Gesture Sketch" then added some details when I felt the drawing was correct.
I started first with black watercolor in various values to 'draw' more details in, feather markings, wing values and shape. Then I dabbled on with my fine pointed round brush, a light value of breast color. While it was wet I sprinkled on salt to see if it would help break it up, in a random way, I love the way salt does this. I also put in an orange red for the iris of his eye.

In the third picture I have laid on more breast value, defining more of the 3d shape of the hawk's breast and body. I put a pale wash of purply pink under his tail and touched it to his wing feathers and by his eye. I put a tiny bit of blue on the beak and behind the eye to shape his head more. I also colored the branch, legs and put some browns up onto wing feathers.

The fourth picture I added some more colors here and there on the hawk, more color on the grey wing feathers and around eye. If you notice the longest tail feather in the last picture I rubbed out in this one. If you need to change something, wet it and repeatedly brush it and dab with a papertowel. I wanted to shorted in because it was making the whole tail look too rounded. I used my favorite little Chinese brush to make the pine needles in the background. I have a picture below about this.
The final picture of my painting shows another little Cooper's Hawk study, this one done with Inktense watercolor pencils, Prismacolor watercolor pencils and one Graphitint water soluble pencil. You can see the difference between the transparent watercolor painting and the wc pencil painting. I like the grainy look of the wc pencils, it has a softness to it. On my sketchbook I've listed the actual colors for those who like to know! You can click any picture to see it larger.

This photo shows how I used a plastic bag to block the birds breast so I could brush right from his breast out, without getting him green! It's a little trick you can do to protect your areas you've painted. I would be holding it down with my fingers normally, but I had to hold the camera! (I need a camera man!) Then I show how I use my little Chinese brush by splaying it out, to make pine needles, it works great! The next photo shows me putting the needles on with the brush tips.
Now here's a little tip that I just put to good use, you can see in the last photo I have two pencils in my hand. You can brush the tips of your wc pencils to get a limited amount of color for light washes. But this time I held two, an Antique White and Tangerine. I brushed the Tangerine then the White to make an opaque wash of orange. I used this very nicely on his eye as it had gotten a bit dark. Then I used the white alone to dab repeatedly to make a highlight on his eye. Besides the Chinese brush, I used the one small brush to do all of the painting on both, a round, cheapo brush from Walmart!
I hope you enjoyed my painting today as much as I enjoyed doing it! Please leave me your comments if you like and you can sign up to receive email announcements when I do a new post!


Lily Pang said...

It is a beautiful painting. It is such a nice idea to using plastic bag. Thank you for sharing.

This is lily from ArtAno.

Mary McAndrew said...

Thank you Lily,
I had the idea for the plastic bag because I used to do airbrushing, and a lot of times you use something to block out where you're spraying.
I saw your stuff on Red Bubble, had a look around. Good job!

New York State Teacher said...

Hey Mary, your blog site is really cool. I like the pictures of the sketches. I will have to tey that on my site. Check it out: I created a blog to use at school and in my presentation in NYC March 7th.

Mary McAndrew said...

Hi NYS teacher,
I'll have to check out your blog later, thanks for the compliment too. What kind of teaching do you do? And where? A lot of my family is in the NYS school system as teachers! I'm also interested in teaching my nature sketching classes at schools, any input on that would be appreciated. You can email me directly too if you like,
good luck with your presentation!

camulus said...

You are truly a a very talented artist Mary, that is an exceptionally fine picture of the "Cooper hawk" and what a nice name for it! (Cooper happens to be my name)

The background fir branches could perhaps require to be a little more darker and denser as they remind me very much of a Bamboo design. Other than that terrific, fit for a publication!

It is Sparrow hawks that predate at my bird table in England. At first I was very upset about it, but now I now accept it as all part of the balance of nature. By providing food to the birds, I am ensuring birds survive the winter that otherwise would succumb to the severe elements. In so doing I have caused a greater aggregation of birds at one particular spot which the predation by the hawks attempts to rectify. However I have covered the bird table to make the job of swooping down to grab a small bird that much more difficult. Those that survive a swoop still end up dying by flying into the patio window and unfortunately this is a lot more than the hawk actually takes!!

Mary McAndrew said...

Hi Camulus,
thanks for the compliment! About the bamboo look, the picture I worked from had the very dark areas around the greenery I painted, I thought about going 'into it' more with the darks in the painting, but decided to keep it simple and light looking. Kind of like an oriental design, where they wouldn't put every little detail and didn't really show depth. Funny thing, I never studied painting with anyone, but my friend in College from Main Land China taught me how to do Chinese brush painting, and my watercolor style has it's roots in that.
I really did enjoy doing this study with a little more detail than what I've done lately, I can't wait to work on a longer painting!
And you're right about the hawks, their a part of the cycle of life too, and just as beautiful as the small birds.
Thanks for your comments!

annie said...

I have just returned to Live in England after living in the States for 24 years, this change of enviorment has prompted me to start painting again. I have to honest I have not heard of you before and came across your site when I was looking for classes. I love your paintings you stop painting at the right time, you dont turn your paintings into photographes.
I havnt looked at all of your site yet, but wondered if you teach classes.
All good things Annie

Mary McAndrew said...

Hi Annie,
Nice to hear from you and it's great your inspired to paint again. Did you see all my posts on my trip to England this past fall? Wow I loved it! I'll be in England this summer, I may be able to teach, where are you located near? I'll be up in Northumberland mostly but traveling around I hope. Email me to talk more if you'd like. I'd love to hear more about where you live in England. I'll keep you posted on my classes and the book I'm working on about Nature Sketching.