Just a moody morning on the coast. I love the beach at dawn: it’s quiet and uncrowded, and the weather and waves have a subdued and beautiful vibe that can’t be found at any other time. Today, a fog bank held sway over the outer waters, providing a dramatic backdrop to the drilling platforms.
Bonus sketch: a random gull. This is tiny, a quarter would cover up most of the bird’s body.
Remember the eye that was bugging me a few days ago? Well, I couldn’t stand it anymore!
After so many years of trying to be a watercolor purist, I finally realized that there’s no reason not to adapt a few things. There’s nothing wrong with opaque gouache, nor is there any reason why a given work has to be declared “done” at a given point and never ever touched again. This is a very freeing feeling, and I decided to exercise my new-found freedom on That Eye.
It took a little care, but ultimately wasn’t that hard to do. The Platinum Carbon ink did most of the work, as I knew it would. So, making the eye bigger and more oval was really not the problem. Recovering the lost catch light and the light rim that defines the lids, THAT was the problem. A few minutes with gouache and the problem was solved! It matched the watercolor perfectly and other than a slight difference in reflectance, looked as if it had been there all along.
So, Inktober Oct 22: One eye, a few blue highlights, and a big sigh of relief.
This rather silly-looking songbird came with an extra challenge. I met a friend for an impromptu lunchtime drawing session. We both wanted to paint the same reference, so I placed it upside down for me (right-side-up for her). Call me a show-off, but it solved the problem and we had a lovely time drawing and chatting. Thing is, I was working an upside-down bird upside down, Betty Edwards style. Read more
Here’s a bird I’d never heard of before: an Azure Kingfisher. They have the best birds in Australia! Clearly my life is not going to be complete until I’ve been there. If all I did was spend a day out seeing wildlife it would be a plane ride well spent.
Kingfishers have giant beaks as a rule, so this is actually fairly proportionate to the source photo. The color was just crying out for a strong dose of PB29 Ultramarine (in gouache) and some Burnt Sienna did a nice job on the bird’s warm breast. What I am not happy with is the eye – it’s not a bad eye on its own and would be fine on a songbird. This is an Azure Kingfisher though, and they have enormous beady eyes. A disappointing lesson in minding proportions! Letting it go for today, though with gritted teeth.
About 3″ x 4″ on the Strathmore paper, with the Kuretake #40 ink brush.
Now here’s a bird that lends itself to drawing with an ink brush! Black-Necked Stilts have ridiculously long legs. They’re long when the bird is in water; on land, it looks like they have legs that were meant for different bird. Most of the time, they’re in enough water to look proportionate (for a wader, anyway.) Read more
Walked over to a different corporate park to check out their landscaping for a change. This park has an enormous manmade pond, big enough to support giant koi and to attract a variety of wildlife. Today, across the sand volleyball court, I spotted a Snowy Egret in the middle of the lake.
There’s some lily pads and pond equipment out there. The bird was standing on a pipe or something that was just at the surface, making it look like the bird was standing on the water. Several ducks were doing the same on other pipes. I stole quietly across the volleyball court, hoping the reeds would hide my approach. Shouldn’t have worried! Read more
The crab left an odd gap on my page, so I found something that would fill it right up. The Toco Toucan gets the job done! He’s mostly ink, with some color obviously on the head, feet, and that incredible beak. (Funny thing about toucans. Their bills are large, but not very powerful. It can be hard for them to crunch up a grape!) This one has a wash of PO62 Benzi Orange on the eye spot and beak, with a further wash of PO73 Pyrrole Orange to deepen the color, and PB28 Cobalt Blue to give a little shadow. The feet are PB28/PO62 mixed on the paper. Finally, there’s a streak of PBr7 Burnt Umber on the branch.
Background is PV19 Rose Deep and PB16 Phthalo Turquoise. Those two are an odd combination and I hated it for a minute. The turquoise is far too green to normally make a good purple, and I should have known that. Fortunately it smoothed out into a decent-looking red-violet. Drawn with the Kuretake #40 brush.
Reference photo from Wikipedia.
Love these birds! Saw one as a teenager and thought it was pretty cool to have a genuine Bird of Prey living right in my boring neighborhood.
Learned a couple things with this drawing. One, watch proportions! The head shape and eye size is a little different than the reference. It’s fine for practice, but not entirely *right*. Second, never use paint to do what you should have done with ink. I tried to get lazy and beef up one of the black neck stripes with Sodalite, and it just looked weird. Better to have just scratched away at it a little longer.
Third, perhaps, plan ahead. I was going to draw the entire bird and could see after a while that maybe 60% of him would fit on the page by the time I got done. Oops. Head portrait it is! This was about all I had time to draw anyway. Might do a full-bird drawing and stretch it over two days.
Reference is this Wikipedia photo.
Today’s entry is a serenading Sedge Wren, drawn from Bob Tarte’s fabulous photo and used with his generous permission. Thanks Bob! Do check out his books and podcast at bobtarte.com.
Birdy at left drawn with the Platinum EF fountain pen on Strathmore 140lb Windpower CP.
The beach at dawn, my favorite time to go. It’s deserted and the sky is almost always at its best! Today a band of mist masqueraded as virga, and the rising sun washed everything in pastels. Also spotted a Heerman’s Gull, unafraid as I stared at him. Did not know which gull this is until I looked it up at home, but the field marks were obvious enough to ID him later.
Painted across the spine in my sketchbook. Green Apatite, PR101, PB35, Jane’s Gray, PO71, Raw Umber. Ridiculous amount of pigments there!
Both painted at lunchtime, from memory.