Showing posts with label 200 Painting Challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 200 Painting Challenge. Show all posts

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Leave a peppermint stick for old St. Nick...

Wishing everyone a very Chiggy Christmas
filled with love, peace and joy.

The Carol of the Birds
(a traditional Catalonian Carol)

When rose the eastern star, the birds came from a-far,
in that full night of glory.
With one melodious voice they sweetly did rejoice
and sang the wonderous story,
sang, praising God on high, enthroned above the sky,
and his fair mother Mary.

The eagle left his lair, came winging through the air,
his message loud arising.
And to his joyous cry the sparrow made reply,
his answer sweetly voicing.
"Overcome are death and strife, this night is born new life",
the robin sang rejoicing.
When rose the eastern star, the birds came from a-far.

(addendum...I forgot to mention this was painting 100 in the 100 Painting Challenge! I've completed two years of the challenge and now have 200 paintings to show for it. Time to start year rest for the wicked!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

A watercolor painting of a Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)
Painting 197. A Tufted Titmouse Outside my Kitchen Window on the Eve of Thanksgiving

...and a poem for autumn:

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.
Emily Dickinson
"The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson," pg 124

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Have your Dark-eyed Juncos arrived yet?

Our first contingent of Dark-eyed Juncos made an appearance two weeks ago on November 8. The little gray beauties with the sweet pink bills blew in on a cold north wind, bringing excitement with them as they announced the change of the season. These are our winter birds. We only get to see them when the snow flies and the skies turn gray. Having them back in the yard is always a happy day. Their chatter and twittering is almost fairylike, and their dark gray feathers are pretty. If it has to be cold and gray outside, thank goodness we have our little gray birds out there to brighten things up! Every year Rick and I have a little contest to see who will spot the first Dark-eyed Junco of the season. I won this year...

Painting 196. The First Dark-eyed Junco of the Season

Painting 195. Here Comes Winter--a Dark-eyed Junco is in the Backyard!

Monday, November 21, 2011

More Cedar Waxwing studies...

You might recognize a couple of these Cedar Waxwing paintings from a post I did for Birding is Fun, but I kept adding to them through the week, so I thought I'd post the rest of them here. Most of these paintings were inspired from a few sketches I did on November 5 at Fort Ancient (the largest prehistoric earthen hilltop enclosure in the United States). Crunching through drifts of yellow and red leaves by the Mound Trail, I was making so much noise I had to stop every now and then just to hear! Eventually a familiar sound filled the woodlands, and I heard the tinkling, metallic high-pitched “srees” of a small flock of Cedar Waxwings...

Painting 194. Cedar Waxwing on the Mound Trail
(Red and Black Conte crayon painted over with a waterbrush)
I've just recently started using conte crayon again. I love's so quick; no pencil sketches or under drawings are required.

Painting 193. Cedar Waxwing on the Mound Trail...No Berries
(Red and Black Conte crayon painted over with a waterbrush)

Painting 192. Cedar Waxwing in Autumn Color
(Oil Pastel)

Painting 191. Cedar Waxwing at Fort Ancient
(Watercolor heightened with charcoal)

Pencil Sketch of Cedar Waxwing at Fort Ancient

Painting 190. Cedar Waxwing Looking for Berries

Painting 189. Cedar Waxwing at Fort Ancient
...this is how I usually see Cedar Waxwings--eating berries from the mulberry trees as I look on below. This is the finished painting. On the Birding is Fun post, I had just started this painting.

Painting 188. Cedar Waxwing with Bittersweet Berries
(Watercolor heightened with colored pencil)
...from a winter memory when I found a small flock of Cedar Waxwings eating bittersweet berries.

Painting 187. Two Cedar Waxwings--Plain for Rick

Pencil Sketch for Two Cedar Waxwings--Plain for Rick

These paintings are all quick studies for the 100 Painting challenge. Only a handful to go! I might finish early this year. Last year, I finished Painting #100 on New Year's Eve...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Paintings of Sanderlings

Shortly after I did the post a few weeks ago on the Sanderling who "forgot to run," I remembered I had a drawing in my sketchbook of two Sanderlings I did back in March when we were in Captiva for spring break. Since Sanderlings are one of my favorite shore birds, I decided to do a series of practice paintings from that sketch. I concentrated on the two poses I had captured in the drawing...with lots of variations!

Painting 186. Sanderlings Foraging
Watercolor (12x16)

Painting 185. Captiva Sanderlings
Watercolor (9x12)

Pencil drawing of Sanderlings from my sketchbook (Captiva Island, March 2011). Florida birds are so amazing. Just sit and watch, and they will come right up to you!

Painting 184. Sanderling in Black and Blue
Watercolor (9x12)

Painting 183. Sanderling Pose 1...Again
Watercolor (9x12)

Painting 182. Sanderling Pose 2
Watercolor (7x10)

Painting 181. Sanderling in Orange (my favorite)
Oil Pastel (7x10)

Painting 180. Sanderling Pose 1
Watercolor (7x10)

...these are all quick studies and practices to help me get familiar with the bird. I only get to study them when I go on vacation to the ocean (which is never enough...). Eventually I'm going to work up to a complete painting where I concentrate on value and light. Until then, it's sweet and simple. My favorites are 181, 182, 184 and 186. I continue to plug away on the 100 Painting Challenge. I'm right on schedule. I should reach 100 by Dec 31. (This is my second year of a five-year 500 painting challenge.) If you want to see other Sanderling posts, click here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chestnut-sided Warbler paintings...

Chestnut-sided Warblers are always a fun warbler to watch. Their bright yellow heads and rusty-chestnut sides always look so nice through the binocs! I continue to plug away on the 100 Painting Challenge (2nd year). I finished these paintings a few weeks ago and posted them to the challenge site and the Birding is Fun site, but forgot about old Red. So here they are...

Painting 176. Tough Chestnut-sided Warbler on the Lookout
(watercolor, charcoal, and an electronic PhotoShop Filter)

...pencil sketch of the Chestnut-sided Warbler

Painting 175. Chestnut-sided Warbler Migrating Through...
(watercolor, charcoal, salt for the mottled background, and an electronic PhotoShop Filter)

...pencil sketch for painting 175

Painting 174. Chestnut-sided Warbler in the Forest
(oil pastel over a quick watercolor)
(...this is my favorite!)

Painting 173. Chestnut-sided Warbler on Branch
(...a quick practice painting to plan painting 174. It is colored pencil over a two-minute watercolor.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My hummingbirds are not always angelic...

...sometimes they perch with an undeniably honked-off and irritable look in their eyes defying any other humming-type bird to venture forth and try...just get a sip of the sweet, sweet nectar...

Painting 172. Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird Guarding the Nectar

Rough Pencil sketch from my sketchbook of a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

...I drew this sketch in the car while waiting for Matty. My ref was a poor-quality printout of a photo I took a couple of years ago. As a result, I couldn't see any feather detail, so I totally made up the feather configuration, choosing "poetic license" to give the feel of detail. Since this little female had such a fierce look in her eyes...and she was "poetic" in her own way, I thought D. H. Lawrence's poem "Humming-bird," where he depicts a hummingbird at the dawn of creation as a "jabbing, terrifying monster," was the perfect fit. When I watch our hummingbirds fight viciously over their food source in the summer, I totally get his image...

I can imagine, in some otherworld
Primeval-dumb, far back
In that most awful stillness, that only gasped and hummed,
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.

Before anything had a soul,
While life was a heave of Matter, half inanimate,
This little bit chipped off in brilliance
And went whizzing through the slow, vast, succulent stems.

I believe there were no flowers, then,
In the world where the humming-bird flashed ahead of creation.
I believe he pierced the slow vegetable veins with his long beak.

Probably he was big
As mosses, and little lizards, they say, were once big.
Probably he was a jabbing, terrifying monster.
We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of Time,
Luckily for us.

by D. H. Lawrence
(excerpted from "The Little Big Book of Birds," by Tabori and Fried -- originally from "Birds, Beasts and Flowers," 1923)
...this is painting 72 in this year's 100 painting challenge...painting 172 in my 5 year, 500 painting challenge.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Drawing and painting hummingbirds...while they are still here!

...the female and juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are going crazy at our house zooming here and there and fighting at the feeders. The males have already left, getting a jump on their big journey south and leaving lots of nectar behind for the females and juveniles. Last week we had several new birds at the feeders, no doubt stopping off to refuel as they migrate south...

Paintings 69-71 were fun little sketches. I drew them quickly with a pencil on watercolor paper while sitting in the car waiting for Matty. If you recognize the poses, it's because I used reference photos from a series I photographed back in 2009. It was fun drawing these birds because I wasn't worried about stray lines or erase marks, detail, or accuracy...just creating quick little impressions to get things started. When I got home, I went outside and painted over the top of the sketches with watercolor. The hummers were really active that day, and I enjoyed seeing them and listening to their fighting while I laid in the color...

Painting 71. Hummingbird Sipping Lucifer Crocosmia Nectar
Watercolor and graphite

...the pencil sketch for painting 71.

Painting 70. Hummingbird Resting Beside Lucifer Crocosmia Blossoms
Watercolor and graphite

...pencil sketch for painting 70.

Painting 69. Hummingbird Resting on Lucifer Crocosmia Stalk
Watercolor and graphite

...pencil sketch for painting 69.

Painting 68 was even more basic. Scratched out with a charcoal pencil, I then went in with plain water in a waterbrush to soften and add shading. After that, a few strokes of watercolor to define and anchor. I did this in the car, and it only took a minute or two. It was meant to be a study, to help me figure out how I was going to paint the pencil sketches. It's the first time I've used charcoal in over 30 years. I loved it and will be using it a lot more...

Painting 68. Hummingbird in Charcoal

I splashed out painting 67, the first painting in the series, with one color in just under one minute. Meant to be a study to give me a feel for the hummingbirds, I was outside by the feeders while the hummingbirds were buzzing around when I painted it. It's fun to throw caution to the wind with these quick studies...

Painting 67. Hummingbird in Blue

...these paintings are all part of the 100 Paintings Challenge.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

...more bird paintings

Painting 157, Prairie Warbler
(Watercolor heightened with colored pencil)

I saw this fellow back in March at Ding Darling. He sang nonstop and came in incredibly close for me. I fell in love with him...

Painting 156, Great Blue Heron
What Big Yellow Eyes You Have...

...this beautiful Great Blue Heron fished and walked the beach daily near our condo on Captiva Island, Florida. He's also the same Big Blue that showed up in painting 135, A Captiva Blue in Green.

Painting 155, Great Blue Heron
Grunge in Florida Light...

...the same fellow that's in painting 156, but I painted this version with a palette knife and very thick acrylic. The painting was too large for the scanner (16x20), so I photographed it. Unfortunately, it was a grey day and the photo is way too dark, not doing the painting justice. I need to rephotograph it when the sun returns....

Painting 154, Common Yellowthroat Hiding Along the Little Miami River
(Watercolor underpainting covered in oil pastel)

(the original Common Yellowthroat watercolor painting)

The original watercolor didn't have enough life in it for me, so I gave in and smeared color all over it, losing the leaves in the process...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Louisiana Waterthrush beside a rocky stream...

…Rick and I had just crossed over one of the many rocky streams that tumble down steep hillsides and into the Little Miami River when I caught sight of a bird bobbing up and down on a tree limb in the distance. I knew what it was without having to use my binocs—a Louisiana Waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla), but a quick look through the camera lens while snapping a photo confirmed its identify. What a find! We don’t get to see Louisiana Waterthrushes very often, so we were happy and surprised…

We caught sight of this Louisiana Waterthrush just after crossing the stream that leads to the heavily wooded, deep and dark lowland flats ("Middle Earth"). The sun had actually come out that day, and the whole woods had morphed into a steamy hot sauna. It felt good...

Painting 152. Louisiana Waterthrush along the Little Miami
(Oil Pastel, Sennelier Oil Pastel paper)

When we saw this bird, the heat of afternoon was building. It was the first day of sunshine in weeks, and when I got home and started to paint him, my mind was still filled with the heat of the sun. I guess that's why the painting quickly went to reds, oranges and yellows. I never know what will happen when I pick up an oil pastel and start to paint, because for some reason the results are representational and emotion-driven. Using the creamy colors is fun, and no sketching is required. I just start putting down color and let the bird emerge. The finished piece is always impressionistic with a grungy feel. Detail and accuracy are abandoned for color.

Painting 153. Louisiana Waterthrush in the Deep Woods
(Watercolor and scribbled color pencil)

I painted this guy several days later. By then the rains and grey cloud cover had returned (so no reds, yellows and oranges!). Seems my watercolor paintings are always a little more realistic and detailed, but this one is still very loose. It was fun to scribble over the top of the painting with colored pencil. I just recently started picking the colored pencils up again. I haven't used them for so long.

...a pencil sketch of a Louisiana Waterthrush as a study for painting 153.

I wish I had had a video camera with me to capture the way the warbler was bobbing up and down. He really made me think of a Spotted Sandpiper bobbing and dancing to some unheard forest rhythm.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Scarlet Tanager in a Buckeye Tree

...a light patter of raindrops was falling against the dome of our oversized umbrella as we walked the Little Miami trail listening to the evening songs of Wood Thrushes and other wood warblers. "I hope we see a male Scarlet Tanager," I said to Rick. "I haven't seen one yet this year, and he would be beautiful in the rain." We walked on and saw lots of birds, but no tanager. Eventually it stopped raining and the sun came out in a fitful burst to light the treetops and help dry the rain, and suddenly, there he was...fiery crimson in the buckeye tree...

A male Scarlet Tanager radiates color in the shadows of evening along the Little Miami River. its only appearance of the day, a shaft of the sun's light makes it through the canopy and ignites the bird's feathers against the yellows and greens of the buckeye tree's leaves.

...even though a shaft of sunlight was highlighting the bird, the evening sun was weak and the low light required a high ISO, draining the photo of detail (but to me a fuzzy Scarlet Tanager is better than no tanager at all...).

Of all the spring migrants, Scarlet Tanagers hold a special place in my heart. They were the first "exotic" bird I learned as a child. When I was really young, my parents hung an Audubon print of the Scarlet Tanager in my bedroom. I loved that old-fashioned print, and I loved knowing that the fiery red bird with coal black wings was a Scarlet Tanager. It was a beautiful bird and had a beautiful sounding name (I also remember wondering why none of my friends loved the bird or thought the painting was cool...).

Today when I looked at my fuzzy photos, I fell in love with the bird all over again. The contrast between the bright crimson and the spring greens sparked ideas in my head, and I couldn't put the oil pastels down and decided to go for grungy impressionism...

Painting 147. Scarlet Tanager in the Buckeye Tree
(Oil Pastel, 10x7 Sennelier Oil Pastel paper)

Painting 148. Scarlet Tanager Looking Up
(Oil Pastel, 10x8 Sennelier Oil Pastel paper)

Painting 149. Scarlet Tanager From Behind
(Oil Pastel, 10x8 Sennelier Oil Pastel paper) more Scarlet Tanager story, and then I'll be quiet! In the early 90s I was birding at Sharon Woods in Hamilton County with my parents and my Grandma B. It was the first time Grandma had ever been "birding," and while we were walking, I said to her, "If we're lucky you'll get to see a Scarlet Tanager!" Of course, I knew the chances of that were slim because it was midsummer and the leaves were thick...and the canopy where the tanagers usually hung out was extremely high, but...Grandma with her Irish-Lass-Luck lucked out. Within seconds of the words leaving my mouth a male Scarlet flew down and landed on a branch no more than 3 feet away...and at eye level!!! We all stood there stunned and stared at the bird for over a minute. He was so gorgeous and so close...and just perched there watching us as we watched him. It's never happened since. I used to go to Sharon Woods all the time and walk that trail. I'd stop every time I got to that spot and watch and wait...

...and I still have an Audubon print of a Scarlet Tanager in my bedroom (it's a bigger print, and it's in the bathroom, but it's there!).

To see bird photos from around the world, visit...