Painting 109 - Tricolored Heron in Profile; the Beat Goes On...
Watercolor, 12x16 Arches Cold Pressed 140 lb Paper
I knew when I saw this juvenile Tricolored Heron through my camera lens he would someday end up in a painting. The image of his profile and incredible tufts of downy feathers bubbled around in my brain for a long time. At first I saw him as a crazy acrylic...something with lots of energy to match that crazy "head of hair," but slowly it morphed into a detailed watercolor. The downy stray baby feathers on the top of his head were so airy and breezy and soft. I could see them in my mind's eye floating with the gentle puffs of sea air on that very hot day, and watercolor seemed the only way to capture that feel. This was the first baby heron I saw on Pinckney Island this summer (the post is here), so he was special. There were lots of other juveniles with cool hairdos, but this guy stood out. You can just tell he's a Rock 'n' Roller!
Pencil sketch of a juvenile Tricolored Heron
Now that I'm not afraid to sketch and paint in public, a whole new world has opened for me. I sketched this guy during an hour and half hockey practice...then again the next day during an hour and half tennis clinic--that's three hours of drawing time previously I would have spent reading. During that time I probably erased and redrew him 4 or 5 times. I was aiming for accuracy and wanted to get the angle of the head and bill just right. Drawing and redrawing helps me get familiar with the subject of the watercolor painting, and I found I use the sketches to solve problems I anticipate while painting. When I first started drawing this guy, I had no idea how to render the feathers on top of his head without making them look like brush bristles. Playing with the graphite, erasing, darkening, etc., allowed me to see the subtle shading that was there and helped me learn how to bring dimension to the painting. I only use sketches for detailed watercolors...my acrylic paintings are spur of the moment and fast.
p.s. I did get a new scanner, so it can handle the 12x16 format, but I'm still struggling with an exact scan using the scanning software. The original of this guy is nicer...the baby down is finer and not quite as yellow... Matty just walked in and saw the scan and said, "That's no where near as good as the original..." Well, I'll keep working on it!
This painting is part of the 100 Painting Challenge. I'm doing it for my second year. If you're an artist and want to join, visit the 100 Paintings Challenge Blog.