I had a lot of company today, some expected and some not, so I’m talked out ;-). Some days when you read my blog and I’m long-winded it’s pretty much because I have spent the whole day or possibly two days mostly by myself. Not the case today–so here is my offering–the brightly colored Baltimore Oriole. I just think these are beautiful birds and didn’t want to miss an opportunity to paint one. The Oriole we see around here is a Bullock’s Oriole but I decided to break yet another of one of my rules and go rogue–paint a bird outside of my territory. They’re only MY rules anyway–besides, some of my friends from the East Coast may want to purchase a bird painting or two as well.
Besides painting an Oriole, I started on the painting for tomorrow–here’s a sneak peek. I’m sure it’s obvious what it is. If not, you’ll just have to be surprised.
My friends who were here to see my studio and have lunch with me were interested in what these pieces look like in real life. I decided that it would be good to share with all of you. Here is the display I created for these little 5″x7″ pieces–thank you Ikea. It’s a great way to let them dry and also it kinda dictates what bird I will do next or what color background. I don’t want them all to be the same.
Eventually, hopefully before Open Studio, I will have note cards made from these. I’m trying to decide if I should sell them as individual cards or as a full alphabet. Any input? I won’t tell you which way I’m leaning until I get some feedback (IF I get feedback)–hypothetically, if you were buying these cards, would you rather have 2 of 4 different paintings packaged together (my choice), the option of buying them individually or packaged in an A-Z (one of each) format? Or all of the above–All these decisions!!!
AKA Golden Crowned Sparrow–As I’m winding down on my quick paint birds it’s becoming more difficult to find birds to go with some of the letters. I was considering painting a Zebra Finch for the Z (which I don’t have a reference picture of) but upon checking the index of my trusty bird book to see what birds started with Z, I was delighted to find that the scientific name for a Golden Crowned Sparrow starts with a Z! I had this cute little picture of a Golden Crowned Sparrow sitting in my hydrangea bush just outside my kitchen window from this last spring in the que and had hoped to be able to paint it. We get a lot of these perky birds, along with White Crowned Sparrows.
Today I decided to show you my process again. The first one is about 15 minutes in. I got a phone call at the next phase I was going to photograph and completely forgot it so I’m jumping to the finished product.
This little guy took me right at 1 1/2 hours. The angle of his beak drove me crazy–it was a matter of stepping away again and letting the paint setup so I could accomplish the curve and shadows. However, don’t look too closely.
I don’t have much info besides their scientific name today–I thought that in itself was pretty impressive. I had my granddaughter much of the day and now that it’s time to post my blog my brain seems dead. It was definitely worth the time with her though. ;-).
With the name Common Yellowthroat, you’d think these little songbirds would be a more common sight. A couple of years ago while observing the rookery of Great Blue Herons while they could still be seen–all the leaves had not yet come out–I heard an odd little buzzing like sound in the tall grass. Every once in a while I’d hear what sounded like a low warning chirp. Taking my camera closer I looked and looked but couldn’t see anything. Eventually I saw a little movement in the grass and blindly pointed my camera in that direction and took a few shots. I didn’t know what that little masked bird was but it was so fluffed up and cute I could hardly wait to get the bird book out and I.D. it. This year I found a pair of them not far from our house. Sadly, a housing development was coming in and they mowed all the grass where they were living. I hope they were able to get at least one brood raised.
Speaking of their broods–they raise 1-2 per year with 1-6 eggs. In less then a month the chicks leave the nest. Eggs are incubated 12 days, and in 12 days they’re ready to leave the nest. Common Yellowthroats migrate and are found breeding all over the US accept Alaska but winter over in the Southern states and Mexico. Maybe that’s why we don’t see them much around here.
Today I remembered to take pictures of the process. They are posted after the finished painting if you care to see them.
Who knew that it’d be so hard to make time to do a quick paint project. Yesterday turned into a no paint day but I did get the rest of my show hung at Lava Java and a couple of neglected friends visited. You might say, I had a much-needed break.
Today, I did touch ups on my Eurasian Dove. Here is the final result–
Today I completed another painting and started a third. As you can see, these are quick and thick with paint. It’s taking a little bit for me to get real comfortable working like this with birds but I think I kinda like the results. Here is my process.
So far each of these paintings have been done on 5″x7″ 1/4″ mdf boards painted with 2 coats of gesso. For my ‘rough sketch’ I am using raw umber with a touch of ultramarine blue and cadmium red light mixed thin to tone the board. Then I go in with thinner and carve in my bird.
The second step is to apply color. I blocked that in next, without too much detail. Again, I’m establishing my values and hue. I don’t have a picture of the next step but you can basically see it in the final painting. After blocking in my colors the paint is usually too thick and wet to work with so as it sets up I paint the background color around the bird. This too is a little like carving because I take this opportunity to correct any proportions that may be off. I decided to use bright backgrounds on these paintings just for fun.
We have a lot of Killdeer living in the soccer field behind our house. Often you can hear them calling in the middle of the night. I took a picture of this particular bird a couple of years ago. I thought it was cute all fluffed up and shaking its feathers out.
I haven’t decided yet if Mr or Mrs Killdeer is finished. I’m kinda liking the looseness of this painting–tomorrow will tell. I’m not exactly sure how long this took, there were a few interruptions. I would guess about 1 1/2 hours–maybe less. I’m hoping to get to where I can do one of these in an hour or less.
The next painting in this series is a Cormorant. I took the picture of this bird in Anacortes, WA this past spring. I will probably do a full-blown painting of it, along with some of its buddies, but for the sake of this series I’m keeping it simple, loose and bright. I’ll finish it tomorrow. My challenge on this one is the size of the panel–it wanted to get too big so I had to really carve it out once I got the color blocked in. I think the proportions are pretty good now. The paint should be pretty set up in the morning–can’t wait to finish it.