Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Female Cardinal





There's a cardinal pair that visits my backyard everyday. This year, the Mrs. and  Mr. had two young ones, both female. This young female is just starting to come into her colors, her beak isn't quite the bright orange that it will be soon. I took some artistic liberties punching up her color on the wings and tail a little. A hint of ultramarine blue with burnt sienna at the eye mask and the wing to liven up the usually sedate colors even more. The juveniles are always a little rumply looking due to their new feathers over the downy ones. I think she looks kind of sassy.

I also figured out how to finally paint the background with a light wash of blue to make the trees recede, but still read as being a thicket of trees. Before I was always painting the trees as their true color and the focal point would get lost by my giving priority to everything. A new technique for me to play around with and get used to. This was done in Micron pen, then a light gouache on paper.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Mockingbird is King

Here goes, my first time posting to Illustration Friday! This is a micron pen drawing with watercolor wash on paper. 


We have a Mockingbird pair that live in across the street in a rhododenron bush. The male likes to sing loudly and chase away all the other birds his size and bigger (!) from our property. He particularly likes to sit at the top spire of one of the tall blue spruce trees we have in our yard. In the morning and afternoon he will sing his whole repertoire of his version of different bird song and other non-bird noises, like car alarms, very loudly for the whole neighborhood to hear. I saw him perched atop the spruce one afternoon as I sat out sketching in the backyard and was inspired to draw this due to his very regal manner. No doubt, he is the king of the neighborhood!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ready to Roast

A little Summer Harvest of ripe tomatoes ready to pop into the oven for roasting in a vintage glass Pyrex baking dish. Bathed in golden olive oil, slices of pungent garlic, and dusted with dried Italian seasoning mix. The "before" look is much more beautiful than the "after" results of shriveled peels atop a little circular glob of roasted tomato, but the sweet and complex roasted taste will surpass the visual.

I'm continuing to work on developing a quicker, more expressive style. This one is 7x10 pen and ink drawing with gouache paints on paper. I'm working with gouache for the first time, and wondering why it took me so long. For me, it's a happy marriage between watercolors and acrylics that is allowing my brush to do what I've been trying to get watercolors to do. It has the same fluidity of watercolors, but the paper dries faster because I use less water, so I can control better the 'bloom', or in otherwords, the bleeding of one color into another when you add another layer before the bottom paper is dry. With gouache, you can control the bloom. If you add more water to the pigment, you can get a thin watercolor wash effect, but with less water it can also be opaque like acrylics and you can fix some errors that may happen or add some white highlights that may have mistakenly been painted over.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lily Pond


My latest ink and watercolor wash, with a little colored pencil. It's a 9 x 12 on hot press watercolor paper. In a walk around Pine Grove Cemetary in Lynn, you'll come across a small pond filled with lily pads, turtles, ducks, and one blue heron. (Maybe two, could be a nest on the little island inside the pond where I saw one heron walk up into one day.)  I didn't see the frog there, but the lily pad was waiting for one to come by, so I thought I would help it imagine one. I drew a green frog, common for the North East US, which looks a lot like a bullfrog, only smaller and has the ridgelines run down it's back, where the bullfrog is bigger and the ridgeline encircles the ear drum only, and doesn't travel down its' back. Both the green frog and the bullfrogs' coloring are similar with the lighter whitish yellow on the belly and the green/brown on the top, with brown banded legs markings.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Border Collie

My latest pet portrait, a sweet little border collie. The medium was colored pencil on pastel paper, the image fits in an 8 x 10. This pic was from before I put the white mat around it.

It was my first black haired dog using colored pencil. Paint is so much more forgiving than colored pencil, with pencil you really have to think about what is going to show through from the lower layers, including the paper, as well as the base pencil marks. The gray background color helped establish the highlights in the dark areas and let itself be used as the shadowy parts of the white legs and neck, a great multi-purposed method. Next time I'll try using Bristol to see the difference of smooth paper vs textured. The camera shot makes this look much more grainier than it is to your eye when you see it in person, the textured dots help the light move towards your eye, giving the image a moving quality.

I'm back with more time for creativity. The last 8 months have been spent working long hours at my full time job and taking some classes for educational enrichment. I have some sketches of koi fish that are heading this way, stay tuned!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cardinal Pair

A pair of cardinals has been visiting my backyard lately. It's obvious that they've heard that there's copious amounts of black sunflower seeds available, they've been coming each morning and evening. They're very quick and wary, always looking around and it's hard to catch them close together for a photo op. The female usually is on the ground where the seeds are while the male stays up in the ornamental cherry tree branches above or on the fence just below that. The female's colors are very good at blending in with the ground and dried leaves, mostly buff colored with just a hint of red on her head crest, a little on her wings, and a dull red on her tail. The male of course is brilliantly colored with the red hood and pinky, gray edged wings. I love to see him swoop from tree to tree zeroing in on the sunflower seeds.

I sketched this with pencil and pen, then lots of watercolor washes and layers. I gave it more of a summery feel than what is  in season now, I wanted a lush green background to amplify the brilliant red of their plumage.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Where did she go?

Where did I go for a year?  I wish I could say that it was to this idyllic place above, to hear the wind rustling through the leaves, to see ducks, geese, and swans glide gracefully by while I sat on the banks of Crystal Lake, and to have creativity flow out of my soul and onto pages of my sketchbook through my pencil. Alas, nothing so inspiring. Truth is I worked 65 hours a week while my day job was getting ready for a major software change, and while prospectively searching for, finding, then buying a house, then moving and settling in.  I was a little tired. I also moved out of the shared studio space (I'm surprised I remembered where it was) and now have my own space in the house.

So I've been regaining my hand-eye coordination and have been puttering around the new studio.
Here's one of the new ones I worked on when I first got settled.  I'm thinking of calling it "The Wary Hare" just because it sounds funny. But he's not a hare, he's a bunny rabbit. I found some old pictures that I took at the Topsfield Fair one year. My friend and fellow artist Claudia Marchand turned me on to the wonderful illustrator Wendell Minor and I was inspired to do a small animal illustration. There's a soft wash of watercolor in the background and in the log, and mostly colored pencil in the rabbit's fur. I need to arrange some better lighting to take the pictures with, though. The colors are more vibrant than they look.