Friday, August 12, 2011

Daily painting practice- Composing and painting peonies

Unlike my oil painting,  I have not changed anything in this arrangement for my attempt at watercolor.  I can't it's watercolor!!!! However, I did not attempt a background, and as you know, that is where  I usually begin to fall apart and change my  paintings. Nor am I  going any further with this study. It's a good first shot at watercolor and I think it is a better idea to leave it alone with that feeling.  So as unfinished as it is I'm going to say it's done.
I had a lot of strange lessons with this watercolor. I kept loosing patience and wanted the detail to just "appear" so I could move on to the next section. When that did not happen I almost lost it, in fact, I was so impatient I quit  painting the flowers and  mixed a big puddle of dark  color and just wiped in the jar. I guess the lesson there is sometimes you just need to act and not think too much because I finished the jar in about 20 seconds.
After deciding to quit on the watercolor( I taped it to the door) I went back to the oil painting. Some of the comments I had in the previous post on this painting were very helpful. Especially the ones that mention the need for  leaves. Peonies  have such interesting leaves. The painting didn't feel real without them, so I  went out to my garden and  cut some  peony branches (the flowers have long since died.) I set  some up in the same vase and  will use them for reference.
 White Peonies - work in progress
20"x20"
oil on canvas


This painting has really been a struggle. There are moments I feel things are working fine and there are more moments when I paint over the entire  flower arrangement and start again. (can't do that with watercolor!)

Monday, August 01, 2011

Daily Painting Practice- Bird Studies

Gold finches are attacking my sunflowers!
This is just the type of scene I want to capture and paint. I  love  birds and have always been a bird watcher. So now I want to paint them.  But how do  I start? This sketch is an idea but  I need to practice, practice  practice.


I started doing bird sketches at night  from  photos  I found on the web. I think this is a great way of getting familiar with their anatomy, form and detail. Rather than just sitting there watching the TV, I can keep busy sketching.
The next step was to start watching the birds outside and taking my  own photos for reference. I set up  our feeder outside the kitchen window and waited. At first, about 90 percent of the birds at my feeder were  house finches.  But eventually  we started attracting  cardinals, blue jays, nut hatches, chickadees and  morning doves. You can see the light sketch of an idea for a daily painting in the middle of the  sketchbook page above.

Just like my new approach to creating compositions with individual flowers,  it is my  goal to create compositions for these birds by  using multiple references not just copying a photo.
I found I need to keep thinking of form while painting these little guys to prevent things from going flat.
 I  appreciate artists who detail every feather but I  really want to  try to paint the personality I see in individual birds.

Early Birds
5"x7"
oil on panel

Here's my first study. One day I saw young house finches sitting near the feeder still wanting their mom to feed them even though they were completely capable feeding themselves. They really put on an act every time she came near.