Painting #72, Carolina Wren in Carmel
9x12 Acrylic Paper, Acrylic
I love the rich, carmel tones in this painting, and it's total luck that they are there because I almost tossed this painting (and if you look layer by layer, underneath you'll find two other completed paintings). The first time it had a bright green summer background and the bird was realistic, but with all the browns and golds outside the bright green didn't feel right, so I scraped most of it off and painted it again, this time making the bird more impressionistic and bringing in darker greens, but I wasn't keen on it either and thought about tossing it, but an idea popped into my head, so I scraped the painting again and rubbed what was left on the canvas paper smooth. A blurred image of a bird barely visible in a sea of green remained. I then used autumn colors and painted by feel, adding in all the darks and caramels with just a few paint strokes. If you look closely, you can see the deep greens showing through here and there. The bird went from a realistic rendering to one with almost no detail at all.
I can't remember what lies under this painting, but there's a lot of it...whatever it is. The first time I painted this little Carolina Wren, it was realistic. It was a perfectly good finished painting. It was night, and Matty was working on his homework in the kitchen, and I was across from him painting. I started with a paintbrush dipped in Burnt Umber and created the bird with a sketchy outline...then added in more and more detail. We both liked the painting, so I set it aside to dry. The next morning all the paints were still out on the island, and I thought it needed "a little something." So while Matty ate his breakfast, I started squeezing out paint....and smearing it in with a palette knife. That poor little bird had five or six lives with the palette knife as I slowly figured out how to use it. It's super fun, and I'll definitely use one again. By the time this little fellow emerged, I was late for work and had paint on my cheek...and neck...and hairline...and didn't know it until my friend gave me the crazy eye trying to figure out "what is that on your cheek?" In life, this painting looks like it's been carved from leather. The scan doesn't really show that, though.
I drew and painted this little fellow over a period of three 15- to 20-minute stints sitting in my car as I waited to pick Matty up from school. I'd just crawl over to the passenger seat and pull out the ref photo and watercolor block and start sketching and painting. Water brushes come with their own water supply, so they make it easy. Can you tell I used the same photo ref for this painting and the previous painting #73? Same bird...different feel.