Moving from the graphite version of this fine fellow, I decided to do a watercolour study this time. As if often does with me, it turned into a bit of mixed media piece. So, here we have watercolour, a tiny touch of ink, some watersoluble graphite, and just a smidge of gouache. As always, my camera has washed out the blue background some. It’s more vibrant in real life.
Next up will be the seagull in watercolor. At least, that’s my intention! Who knows? And then all three of these birds will get the collage treatment.
I’m back! I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. I was enjoying summer, then was on vacation in Nova Scotia, and all of a sudden it’s October! In between all of that I took on a commission to do three mini 4X4″ collages. Thankfully, my friend and client was understanding, because these seemed to take me forever to do! I had already done a summery flower collage, and she wanted three more to represent the other seasons.
I decided on a cardinal for winter and a blue jay for fall. Spring was a trio of tulips. (They started out as daffodils, but I couldn’t get them to look daffodilly enough!)
Okay, it started our innocently enough as a watercolor, but it wasn’t speaking to me. It had sat on my work table for almost two months. Yesterday, I got out my small arsenal of acrylic paint, pastel and coloured pencils, and other miscellaneous stuff. Voila! The Scarlet Tanager! It sounds like a superhero name, right? Well, to me it does.
Once again, my camera refused to recognise the deep variations of yummy turquoise in the background. Even my photo editing program couldn’t get it right. So imagine that when you look at this painting, please!
Yeah, I went a little wild with this one! I think the heat is getting to me. It started out innocently enough as a nice watercolour, but I thought it was a bit dull. I started adding different media to it (as I tend to do), and it winded up looking like this. Not sure how I feel about it, and I may do it again, but here it is!
In my part of the world, we’ve been getting lots and lots of rain. It’s nice weather if you’re a duck, but I’m getting a bit tired of it! But here’s a little duckling that would cheer anyone up, even on a cold rainy day. We could have had some of these in our yard if I had let the Mallard pair swimming in the water on top of our pool tarp stick around. I wasn’t too sad to see them go however, as our dog Maggie probably wouldn’t have played nicely with the little hatchlings!
I had nothing but problems with this painting. When I first worked on it, the background got away from me and got too dark. Then I had trouble with the little fish in his mouth. I worked on that silly fish for days. Also, I worked on it up on an easel, but when I took it down, I realized the support was warped.
I got good feedback on it however, and decided to try and un-warp it and enter it into a show. It wasn’t accepted, and when I went to pick it up, I realized that the new medium I tried for adhering the collage paper had turned milky! And the supports went back to their original warpedness. Grrr. That was enough of that. It was banished to the closet to serve hard time in the dark.
The thing was, it kept whispering to me, usually late at night when I was trying to sleep. So about six months later, I got it back out. My first step was to take the canvas off the old support and put it on a new one. I only gouged one finger getting the staples out! Then got rid of that darn fish and closed the heron’s beak. With a cry of “No Mercy!” (in my head), I slapped white gesso all over the background, leaving a bit of the orange around the edges of the heron, thinking I might use some of that later.
It stayed like that for a day or two, while I stewed and asked myself, “What the heck do I do now?” But I asked some of my wonderful friends their opinions, and that gave me a kickstart. (Thanks Lauren and Tom! And you too, Char. I had asked you a while ago.)
I added some washy colour around the heron, and some reeds. The bottom needed a bit more darks, so added a few. I found patterns in the paper that I used on the bird and accentuated them and placed some similar ones throughout the painting. Finally, I played around with some coloured pencils and oil pastels to add some pops of colour and texture.
I think I’m done now, and it sure has changed! For the better, I think. Now I just have to come up with a title…
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!
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.
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.