Very happy to paint these little chaps. The contrast between the black and white and the sun on their feathers always cheers me up.
It was my birthday this week and I treated myself to a set of oil paints. I've been looking forward to this for a couple of months and after a trip to Post Road Art for some paints, medium and solvent it was off to the hardware store for cheaper things like gloves, oil soap and hand cleaner. In total I spent around $150 which is more than I planned but I couldn't really strip it back any more.
For my first time out I thought it best to stick with something I know so of course it was an owl! Very much a voyage into the unknown here and I just jumped straight in with a few bits of knowledge I've picked up from reading various blogs.
First a charcoal drawing and an underpainting in burnt sienna thinned with Gamsol solvent.
Looks ok so far. Now in with some paint.
This is mostly burnt sienna, ultramarine and yellow ochre with a quick try out of the background with prussian blue. Still fairly happy here. It's very strange not dealing with water and I keep smudging things as I'm not used to the paint drying so slowly. I do have to say it's nice to actually know what value you're putting down on the canvas rather some elaborate guesswork with watercolor.
Further on now - this was the second day. Things seem to be coming together. The dark feathers are going in well and the face is looking good.
Almost at the end now. The background has gone in simply - it's my first try so nothing fancy. The eyes and face have had some more work. I still need to soften up some edges here as he's a bit garish. The body feathers and wings are probably not going to see much more work - I don't want to mess things up, The rocks definitely need something doing to them but that can wait until tomorrow.
So all in all I'm pretty chuffed. I can't say I like oils better than watercolor. Watercolor does have a lot of charm that you just can't get with oil. But I think this has some potential. and it was a fun birthday present.
At least I think this is finished. As usual I'll keep him on the easel for a couple of days until I'm happy that no touchups are needed. Due to travelling and other happenings t's been a couple of weeks since I painted and it took me a little while to get back in the groove. I like the end result though - not too cute but with a certain perkiness. He's up for sale in the usual place.
A few intermediates. Unusually this one was done over two days. Not sure if that helps.
This was the status at the end of yesterday. I usually don't put in the eyes so early on birds but I was having a little trouble with values so put them in so I could judge the rest of the plumage. Happy so far.
Quite a bit further on here. The feet have gone in - always a bit tense here but they turned out fine. The branch is in and I tightened up the feathers around the face.
The final thing. I beefed up the wing feathers to give him a little more zing and added a little interest into the background. Job done.
Back from Vermont and I have a long list of barns to paint. But in the meantime I fancied an owl. He'll get finished off tomorrow.
I saw a picture of one of these recently and it has been on my list of things to paint. The combination of the red head and breast with the white belly and blue grey feathers made it a perfect bird subject for me. I made this intentionally very sketchy with only creating sharp edges around the head. I'm very pleased - one of the best birds I've done in a while.
Even though I have painted a lot of birds I struggle with their feet. I'd warmed up the brushes early this morning and it felt like a good time to have a practice session. The problem as always is that I tend not to 'see' the feet properly and so they come out like symbols rather than shapes and values. Often the rest of the bird looks good but then the feet look stuck on and out of place.
This was the final and most successful of the test pieces. I'd managed to get the lights placed well to indicate the curve of the talons and also judged the values correctly so they look like they're actually grasping something. Well worth doing.
Here's the first practice sheet with varying degrees of success. Surprisingly enjoyable.
Pigeon sketch asisde it's been a long while since I've done a bird. After the Maine Exhibition I was a bit birded out but a few months have gone by since then and I was feeling a bit guilty about leaving the facebook Paint Colorful Birds for Fun page empty for so long.
Hoopoes are certainly colorful so they fit the bill but continuing the theme of subtlety I wanted to give this a calm, dignified mood rather than go full blast on the orange. Looking past the flashy head feathers I very much like the soft purple shadows on the neck and breast. It's a small effect but adds some calmness to a bird that could easily be one dimensional.
Oh - and he's unperturbed because there was a humdinger of a thunderstorm going on while I was painting this. Windows and walls rattling and everything.
Had a fair bit of activation energy to overcome to get started again after a break. James suggested getting back in the swing of things with a pigeon. We've been in the UK for a week and were woken up by two enormous pigeons nesting at the top of a tree right outside our bedroom window so it seemed appropriate. This little chap isn't quite as fat as our ones but he definitely has more attitude.
In my previous world I was part of a project to investigate the genetics of flightless birds. This involved sequencing the genome of a handful of flightless birds and I've had a plan for over a year now to paint the different birds that were involved.
Now I shouldn't really say this but these flightless birds aren't going to win any beauty contests and they have a tendency towards drab brown plumage. This cassowary, however, is a bit of an outlier with its dramatic head shape and blue and red coloring. So a cassowary it was.
This was an exploratory painting mostly. I was intending to push the looseness quite a bit to counteract the sharp features and I think this will be the way to go. Definitely one you don't want to meet in a dark alley.
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Smaller format than usual - 8x10 - so I kept the design simple. Definitely worked out though. The contrast between the dark plumage, the orange beak and the white background works well.
It's been very rainy and grey here for a few days. I needed something to cheer me up and there's nothing better for that than painting a giant orange beak :-)
I'm getting better at remembering to do the sketches