According to Lifescience.com, “A group of ravens is called an “unkindness” or “conspiracy,” which seems fitting, since ravens are traditionally considered creepy; in fact, seeing many of them in one place can induce Hitchcockian “The Birds”-like flashbacks in even the least ornithophobic (those people with a fear of birds).”
I, however, find ravens and crows fascinating because they are so smart, and also beautiful with their glossy black feathers and large size.
I’ve been experimenting with mixed media quite a bit in my bird series. I did these two trouble-makers with a mix of acrylics, colored pencils, and soft pastels. Here are Heckle and Jeckle!
I also had a chance to try out some water soluble graphite with help from my friend Tom, who kindly let me use them for this guy:
This is another painting that started out its life as a watercolour, then morphed into a mixed media piece! I do like the way it ended up.
We really enjoy watching the Blue Jays that come to our yard, especially when we put out peanuts. They are very smart and pick each one up, weighing them to see which one is the heaviest, then fly off with their prize. As the peanut supply goes down, they get less picky, and it is a race between them and the squirrels to see who gets the most!
When you hear the song of a Red-winged Blackbird, you know you’re in the country, probably near some wetlands. These handsome birds are a favorite of mine. They sometimes come to our feeders along with cowbirds in the summer.
Here is the song of the Red-Winged Blackbird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Click here
I’m behind on my Watercolor Wednesdays, so I thought I’d post one on a Saturday! This is a quick little painting that I did yesterday afternoon. He got me out of a bit of a painting block, so I’m grateful for that!
This little songster is a Western Meadowlark. I’ve never seen one, but according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, our area in Southwestern Ontario is part of their breeding grounds.
For more information on this lovely bird, and to hear its song CLICK HERE.
Since I was kind of happy with the way my robin turned out after I made it into a mixed media piece, I decided to do a couple that were intentionally mixed media! For these, I painted the background of a couple of 5 X 7″ pieces of watercolor paper red, and drew out the chicken and rooster. I did a pretty rough painting with acrylics and then got out my colored pencils, oil pastels and soft pastels.
I really like how they ended up! It was fun experimenting with all the different tools I had on hand to see what I like and what I don’t. I ended up varnishing them, which was a bit of a mistake because I lost some of the soft pastel, even though I had used a special fixative. But a friend reminded me that I don’t need to varnish if I’m going to put it in a frame under glass! D’oh! I knew that, but had a senior moment, I guess!
Anyway, I love the attitude of that rooster, and the slightly startled look on the hen’s face.
It won’t be long until the little goldfinches at our feeder start to get their yellow feathers back. It seems to happen overnight, and is a sure sign that spring is here to stay.
This little painting started out as a bigger one. He was sitting on the top of a drooping sunflower, but do you think I could get that sunflower right? Nope. I did like the bird though, so out came the scissors! Now it is ACEO sized, 2.5 X 3.5 inches. Someday, I might try that sunflower again.
Sometimes paintings work the first time around, and other times it’s a terrible mess. Yes, it’s true. Artists don’t alway make perfect paintings all time time! Sometimes we throw them away in frustration. Sometimes we rip them up and use them as collage material. Most of the time we think we’ve suddenly forgotten how to paint.
This robin was one of those unfortunate paintings. It was a watercolour that had gone terribly wrong. (I seem to be having a lot of these incidents recently!) He (or she) was sitting forlornly on the top of the trash basket in my studio. And I thought, “What the heck, let’s just play with him and see what happens.”
I threw much of my arsenal of media at this bird! I got out the acrylics. I scribbled with colored pencils. I scratched with regular pencils. I tried things with oil pastels. I did it almost angrily. It was quite therapeutic. In the end it still wasn’t perfect, but I kind of like it. It was a very different style and way of working for me. It taught me that when things aren’t going the way you expect, it’s okay to switch gears and go in a different direction.
It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, and these two have started celebrating already! I had fun painting this pair of lovebirds. Yes, it was going along great until I really, really messed up the background and it became a muddy mess.
What to do? I didn’t want to start all over, so I got out my white acrylic paint and covered it over! And then I went even further and added some paper hearts. And a little crayon. Now it is truly a mixed media piece of art. And I actually kind of love it!