Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Peregrine Falcon" watercolor

This is a watercolor study I did to as a demonstration for my fall Nature Sketching and Painting Indoor class that just finished up. I used it to show the stages it took to make a simple study, step by step, layering washes, values etc. Posted below are the steps it took to make this 5"x5" study head, be sure to click on pictures to see larger views! Enjoy!

Detailed sketch - Shown below, first I started with a light gesture sketch of the shape of the bird, then rechecked placements of things and refined details.
Darkest Darks-This is one approach to watercolors, start by laying in your darkest darks and blacks. If you start with a confident sketch it should work out fine, when you work this way you set out from the beginning with a defined dark end of the value range. You can then judge all other values against it as you paint. You won't have to go back and keep "pushing" your darks to make them pop.
I also painted the eye, being carful not to touch the highlight area, black for the pupil, and brown put into the wet black for the iris. (I think I put my reading glasses on for this step! haha).

Below I started to lay in more darks of the cheek, as my brush was drying out I would 'sketch' areas I wasn't sure about...just to start to lay in some value so I could see where I wanted to paint. Color Wash-Here I laid in a bluish grey, ultramarine and black thinned with water. After it dried I laid in some small lines for feathers.
Changeing the drawing- A pale yellow ochre wash on skin of eye area and nares. A wash over the eye highlight to tone it down and soften it. Here I also made a decision about the beak, now that I was putting values down, I thought the beak looked a bit too heavy. So before committing to paint, I erased! I reworked the curve then I painted keeping all areas soft and blended slightly.
Feather details-I brushed on more feather details here, laid in more darks with repeated 'feather' strokes to top of head and all around eye. Nice spotty look at right edge, I like when the watercolor can been seen for what it is, it gives it a looseness. See the photo below for this step, just repeated tiny strokes.
Yellow of beak and eye-Here I laid in the yellow on the nares and eye area, and it's completed!

Please visit my shop to see it on many items, including prints, glossy note cards, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, ceramic tiles, postage stamps, mugs...there's so much! You'll also see my other birds of prey paintings there!

"Saw Whet Owl" water-soluble graphite (October 2008)

I did this little sketch (5"x5") in October, but wanted to post it before too much time slips away! I did it while waiting for my car to have it's oil changed, at a small dirty table in the car garage waiting room. I used water-soluble graphite pencils in three softness's and a waterbrush to wet it. I really am having fun playing with these pencils, they're new to me. I did most of this sketch in one hour...finishing it up at home. Hope you like it, I'll have note cards and prints of it available.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Journey Across Northern England 9-7-08

This is about my first day in England and the drive across the country through the Lake District to Ravenglass, West Cumbria. Forgive me for not having sketches for this entry, I kept busy with my camera recording what I saw, and being so exhausted it would have to suffice. Everywhere I looked, all was new to me and exciting, so the camera clicked away! Let me tell you about my travels with the photos below.

This first one is the view I had upon waking on my first day in England. It's outside Alnwick in Northumberland, (Northeast England) a gorgeous countryside just bursting with fresh greens of all sorts and rolling hills. I had a hot cup of tea with a biscuit, parted the curtains and there you go...lovely. The stone structure across the street is a bus stop.
The next picture shows a view from the other window, looking down the street. The mist hung heavy across all the houses in the tiny village, you'd never know there were very tall hills just behind the houses! I love the mystery in the roofs disappearing into the fog.
The next picture below is just outside the door, I went for a walk with my host Major Bullman and his very old dog "Bracken". It felt good to shake the travel fog from my mind and breath some clean fresh air, I had to pinch myself to remind myself that I was really in England! haha...
Then my friend Gary and I set out to cross England to the Lake District. Along the way I saw amazing sights, beautiful lakes and views. The red fungus below is from our stop at Ulswater Lake; I haven't tried to identify it yet, but would love to do a watercolor sketch of it. It had the neatest golden thread all over beneath it, like spun gold fibres, a spiderweb that perhaps had pollen all over it? Or spores from the fungus?
This is a picture of a VERY tired me (!!) at Ulswater. You can see how much rain the area had been getting, the little islands behind me were under water!
This below is Ulswater, it was placid and peaceful, the sun was just coming out in spotlights upon the distant was so dramatic and inspiring!
This is a breathtaking area that we stopped to take in the view at, a valley near Brotherswater on the way to Kirkstone Pass. I just couldn't get over the prettiness of the view here, but it was getting late and we had far to travel still!
The view below is an unbelievable place, looking down the Kirkstone Pass towards Lake Windemere with the woodland around Hawkshead in the distance. If I remember right, the b+b and pub here are at the highest point in England. (I'll check on that!) I joked with my friend that we should have a pint of beer here just because of this! But alas, we needed to press on, can you see the darkening of the sky?? We still needed to cross some mountains to reach Ravenglass on the West coast.
Below is a stone wall, a stone wall you ask? Why? Well I found it interesting that as for many things, when you take the time to notice, there is an art and beauty to it. Gary explained to me that those who build the old style stone walls, with no mortar, all have their own style when they create. This one shows the rows of flat stones laid in between the big round ones, a mark of this wall makers. I snapped this picture out the window while Gary was asking directions!
We stopped here at a cafe parking lot with a great view, as you can see! Here we're looking down Hartside Pass in Cumbria, towards the Solway Firth. You can see the Irish Sea and Scotland in the distance! That ribbon of road is where we would drive next...a long and winding road. You can just see a tiny white cottage on the right side, that is an open cottage for travelers who may get stuck in bad weather. It makes me wonder just how bad the weather gets here? But I like the idea of the shelter for travelers.
Well I guess that's it for this entry! Next will be sketches and paintings from Muncaster Castle in Ravenglass!