A Repair Job – American Avocet

082314 AAvocet MaskingI decided to paint a series of shorebirds on some of those lovely Garza Papel sample sheets. For extra fun/practice I am doing them without sketching first, just put up a ref and dive in. The Great Blue (heron) turned out nice, so I decided to do an American Avocet next. It was an adventure! I thought others might benefit from seeing a rescue operation in progress.

The short version: Better to plan ahead than try to fix things!

I liked this painting initially, except for the bird’s black and white wings. They definitely looked dead and overworked, and thanks to yours truly not paying attention, the distinctive white marking was just totally wrong.

So, first image is the original sketch. I only meant it for practice so used a random internet image as a source. Here I have already applied masking, ready to scrub the wings back to white (!) and deepen the water behind the legs. It doesn’t really show on the scan, but there’s a tiny slop of Burnt Sienna at the top of the bird’s head I’d like to get rid of while I’m at it, so there is masking
on the head too.

Forgot to take pictures of the scrubbing activity, but here’s a recap. Garza is a beautiful handmade paper and part of my agenda was to see how it handles lifting. Answer? Marginally. It performed very well when lifting back a highlight in freshly-laid paint, but when attacking dry paint with a brush, it did pill a little. I certainly don’t consider that a point off of this fine paper, more a note to the artist: it has a softer surface, so paint accordingly.  To be fair, the paint in question was PB29 Ultramarine + PBr7 Burnt Sienna, and that was glazed over a previous coat of PB28+PBr7, so getting white paper back was kind of a fool’s errand in the first place. In the end, I decided to just get some PH Martin’s Bleedproof White and brush the white triangle on with opaque paint. Live and learn…

082314 AAvocet Masking RemovedNext, to remove the masking. Oh, no, don’t tell me….

Yep, the masking lifted the underlying paint!  So now the bird’s head needs a rescue job, as do the lovely (former) shadows on the belly, and all the color that was on the legs. Curses!!

Good news is, despite the way it pilled during lifting, the surface handled the masking-removal just fine and even better, it repainted pretty much the way I had it in the first place. Whew! I had really liked the way the cobalt/burnt sienna mingled wet-into-wet the first time I did the bird’s belly, so it was a real bonus to see it do exactly the same thing after removing the masking. That’s an interesting quality of this paper – lifting the mask removed underlying paint, but didn’t change the way the surface accepted new paint. I’d still be hesitant to use masking fluid on it based on this experience. Fortunately it’s not something I use frequently.

So, at long last, here is the finished American Avocet.

082314 AAvocet Finish

5.5″ x 7.5″ Garza Papel 140lb CP, PB28 Cobalt with PBr7 Burnt Sienna (and some PB29 Ultramarine in the wings.)

Poor thing, he barely survived my attempts to paint his picture!!

Originally posted on WetCanvas.com

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