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!
A lot of people ask me how I come up with ideas for my art. It usually happens in a roundabout way; I hear a song, or see something that gets me thinking.
Here’s how I came up with the idea for my newest collage. I’ve been wanting to do a collage with grackles for quite a while, but wasn’t sure what the composition would be. I started looking for some grackle photos online at PaintMyPhoto ( which has some great reference photos, by the way). I found some excellent references and then started playing with a composition on my photo editor.
To me, it looked like they were gossiping, so I was trying to think of a title about gossip. Gossiping Grackles wasn’t too exciting. Grackle Cackle was a strong contender, but it just wasn’t right. I like to put music and words in my collage, so I decided to do some research into songs about gossip. One of the songs that stood out was I Heard it Through the Grapevine, a song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966. My favourite version is by Marvin Gaye.
Well, that solved my composition problem and gave me a title for the piece! The grackles could be sitting on a grapevine, and I could have the music and lyrics throughout the collage. I hope to enter this into the annual Paint Ontario juried exhibit in a few days. Also, these are numbers 12, 13 and 14 of my 100 Birds challenge!
I was busy yesterday and didn’t get a watercolor done, so decided to do a quick one today. We’ve been experiencing quite the weather rollercoaster here. Last week, it was excruciatingly cold, this week rain, freezing rain and chance of thunderstorms this evening. More like something these three friends would enjoy!
Today it is -20 degrees Celsius, sunny but blowing and drifting snow. I’m watching our flag whip in the wind and birds huddled under the feeder.
It’s on days like this I daydream about going wherever these little birds go in the winter. It’s got to be better than this!
Here’s a little Ruby Throated Hummingbird. We are always so thrilled when they come to visit in the summer. They are so fiesty! They fight each other to get at the feeder, and even take on the yellow jackets in the early fall.
If you look closely at this painting, you can see where I applied some iridescent paint over top of the watercolor to make his feathers shine. This is a tiny ACEO (art trading card). He’ll soon be available in my Etsy shop, but you can pick him up now!