Michele Clamp

Evening Grosbeak - Take 2

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Second go at the evening grosbeak.   Teetering on the edge of over fiddling but managed to put the brush down.    Much happier with this one.

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Saw-Whet Owl - Take 3

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So the main problem with the last saw-whet owl was it was too cartoonish.   This boiled down to the eyes being too big and the more I looked at it the more jarring it was.   So I took a little more care with the proportions and lost the terrible foliage and things came out much better.   Pretty happy.

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Least Tern - take 2

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Another go at the least tern to see if the owls have taught me anything about painting white feathers.    Much happier with this version.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

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Woo!   Now this was pretty much a pleasure from start to finish and I think he's rather handsome.   Not to say there weren't bumps in the road though.  The drawing was unusually tricky and the branch gave me a bit of trouble but it was all worth it.  

Saw-Whet Owl take 2

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There's a lot of good stuff here but I think he needs a little more work.

Edit:  Yup - too cartoonish due to the large eyes.   These owls really do stand like that though.

Owls 3 - Clamp 1

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So after some studying and planning I'm finally making some headway with the owls.   Somewhat counterintuitively I'm having to be much more careful with the marks and not let the paint do too much of the work.   I don't think I'm quite there yet but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Snowy Owl - Take 3

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Ok so it's become obvious I'm going to have rethink technique for snowy owls.    I've ditched the dark background and tried to model the shapes with subtle blues for the shadows.   Ends of the wing feathers are now defined by paint rather than negative space with the background.   Details are dark and sparse.

I think there's progress here and I'm learning as I go.   The shadows are *very* subtle and edges are crucial whether they're crisp or soft.  Also pencil lines need to be very light or non-existent.  Hard edges spoil the effect.  

 A few more experimental goes and I hope we'll be good for the demo.

Tufted titmouse

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A tufted titmouse (as suggested by James and as featured on the Maine Audubon website).    The brushes are flowing more freely these days and it's showing in the end result.   Nice and loose but still crisp where it needs to be.   This one will definitely make the final list.

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Bald Eagle

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Phew.  Everything seems to be a struggle these days. Not quite sure how I feel about this one and it'll probably take a couple of days to work out whether it has made the grade or not.    At the moment I'm fairly happy with it.

Buy me!

Saw-Whet Owl

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Boy oh boy!    Half way through this one I was wondering if I had ever known how to paint and whether I'd ever be able to again.  The values were wrong,  the edges were wrong,  and it didn't even look much like an owl.   As often happens when everything goes wrong throwing caution to the wind and throwing some paint around can bring things back from the brink.   He turned out pretty well in the end and I'm safe for another day.

Flying Least Tern

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I’ve had loons on my list for a while but nothing on the web had inspired me much.    This is a small (8x10) painting hopefully showing the colors in the dark plumage and the delicate black and white details.    

Blue Jay in the Bag!

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There's nothing like a competition to get me out of a rut.    This week is 'It's in the bag' competition from Post Road Art in Marlborough.   You pay $30, get a random selection of materials and make anything you want with them.

Being pretty much a 100% watercolor painter I was a bit worried when I saw such things as acrylic,  iridescent paints,  bead gel (?) and wax crayons.  Not to mention bits of wire and thread.  Hmmmmm.


Well I had nothing to lose.  As the materials were unfamiliar I plumped for a familiar subject and chose a rather fetching blue jay.   Working mostly by trial and error I was rather pleased how he came out.   I felt especially 'creative' by using the wrapper of the crayon to make the branch.  


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It's been a long while since I painted anything so I was wondering how much of a fiasco this would turn out to be.    A photo taken by Rupert Curwen (edit:  whoops - actually not.  Rupert's will be coming shortly) took my fancy a while ago so I asked whether he would mind me using it for boat practice.   The stars came into alignment and I'm very pleased with this.    Not too shabby at all.

Drawing.  Had a bit of a struggle with the left hand boat but it turned out ok in the end.

First washes.   Going very cautiously here trying to remember how to paint.   Too much caution is usually not a good sign.

Final coat here.  Nice strong darks with a lot of Mayan blue which may well become a fixture.

Boats pretty much done and I'm feeling good.   Foreground is going in where I try to add the illusion of a lot going on without making it too distracting.

The end result!   Pretty pleased here. 

the original photo.


Collage from the 30 in 30

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Well we actually have 12 in 30 as I faded badly in the last two weeks.    However I'd like to thank Leslie Saeta for running this challenge - I always look forward to it even if I don't deliver.  Also many thanks for people who've visited and commented.  It means a lot to have contact with others going along the same path.

Now the challenge is officially over I thought I'd compare to previous efforts to see how things are changing.

This was my first go round back in 2015.    Not having looked at this for a while I was quite surprised at the quality.  There are some that were really a big leap for me.   In particular the Turl Street, Oxford one (2nd row 4th from the left) and the plane one (3rd row 2nd from left).   

This is last years collection.   Frankly not as impressive at the 2015 lot although I still like one of the Venice ones (2nd row, 3rd from left) and the plane and bus ones.

So sadly I think I have to say I'm not really getting any better.   The first time I did this challenge in 2015 I came on by leaps and bounds.   Looking at the first and last from that month (the first two tiger pictures) there is a big change in execution and composition.  I also made strides with the city pictures.    

But then I really knuckled down to it in 2015.  Up at 6am painting before work and making sure I had the time to get a painting done every day.     This isn't rocket science.