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Old Sunday 21st June 2009, 04:06   #1
colleenc
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Wings Over Winecountry, Colleen's place

I live in a bit of heaven the miraculous winecountry of Napa and Sonoma County California. Since I've been in your virtual pubs several times at Tim's I invite you to sample some of the best wines made here, (Virtually is the only way I could afford it!) So to open my new thread I'm popping the cork on a lovely Joseph Swan Zinfandel from their old vines vineyard a mile from my little cottage on the 39 acre farm owned by my dear friend.

As I mentioned on another thread, I'm new to birds, been drawing them a little over a month, and barely know anything about them except what I've crammed in the last month when I did a full immersion blitz. I read Tim's thread and tried to do what he did, anyway Lars says you should pick a master and copy them until you work your way out on the other side, also heard this in regards to songwriting, novel writing and other art forms. I sure save time and not being a great copyist my own stuff comes out anyway.

I go to a lovely big marshy lake nearby and the avocets and stilts ( I am getting some names to stick in the sieve my memory is) were the first birds I saw there. I did field studies, and when my first bins came I took a shaky look closer, but I don't know how to hold them steady yet and have a hard time getting them in my sights, so I don't know a lot of detail yet, but I love the form and light so that's what I tried to put in here.

I'm also trying to work out how to do the birds in my favorite media pastel. This one is very small, 5x7 hardly ever work that size, no room to work in more detail for color. The main drawback is not being able to mix color, so this is just off of the more reddish brown they are, lots of stuff a little off actually, I'll do better with more practice. Also don't understand reflections yet so just had to mash it in. If it looks like it's standing on one leg it is, maybe I should put in two anyway.

Always willing to hear comments and critiques
Am. Avocet at Shollenberger Park pastel 5x7
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Old Sunday 21st June 2009, 09:01   #2
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I have lots of drawings in my sketch books I'd like to try and paint, so here is the avocet again, only this time in oil. when it's dry tomorrow I'll add a line of light to the top edge to bring it out of the background. I'm still experimenting with how to get my sketch to the painting and color. I'm working on how to keep the feeling of lightness and how the bird is just here temporarily could take off any second. Looking for ways to keep it from getting stiff, hard and fixed in place.

My oil technique developed out of my pastel work so there is a lot of simularity sometimes people cant tell the difference, there is a bit of shine on this from the wet paint. Maybe the reflection is a little better,

also a page of stilt work, I find it really hard to get them to stay still long enough to draw :-) so mostly just do the black part...Usually they are pretty far away, but one comes close sometimes, still can't see much detail so I just draw what I can see for now...got to get a scope somehow, maybe a cheap one to start.

5x7 oil Am Avocet, tried making the tucked foot more visible.
SORRY STILTS WOULD NOT LOAD I'LL TRY LATER
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Old Sunday 21st June 2009, 09:04   #3
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Lovely work.
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Old Sunday 21st June 2009, 11:13   #4
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I'll certainly join you in a glass, Colleen.
The pastel piece is wonderful, bur for me, this oil shows the way to go. It has a wonderful light and life difficult to attain. Superb.
Chin chin!
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Old Sunday 21st June 2009, 14:10   #5
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Cheers Colleen! The sun is well over the yardarm here so I'm up for a glass or two.

I'm going to second Tim and plump for the oil (though the pastel's rather nice too!). If this is what you can do after just a month or so then we can look forward to some real marvels in the future.

Keep 'em coming, (that's both wine and piccies).

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Old Sunday 21st June 2009, 14:25   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colleenc View Post
I live in a bit of heaven the miraculous winecountry of Napa and Sonoma County California. Since I've been in your virtual pubs several times at Tim's I invite you to sample some of the best wines made here, (Virtually is the only way I could afford it!) So to open my new thread I'm popping the cork on a lovely Joseph Swan Zinfandel from their old vines vineyard a mile from my little cottage on the 39 acre farm owned by my dear friend.

As I mentioned on another thread, I'm new to birds, been drawing them a little over a month, and barely know anything about them except what I've crammed in the last month when I did a full immersion blitz. I read Tim's thread and tried to do what he did, anyway Lars says you should pick a master and copy them until you work your way out on the other side, also heard this in regards to songwriting, novel writing and other art forms. I sure save time and not being a great copyist my own stuff comes out anyway.

I go to a lovely big marshy lake nearby and the avocets and stilts ( I am getting some names to stick in the sieve my memory is) were the first birds I saw there. I did field studies, and when my first bins came I took a shaky look closer, but I don't know how to hold them steady yet and have a hard time getting them in my sights, so I don't know a lot of detail yet, but I love the form and light so that's what I tried to put in here.

I'm also trying to work out how to do the birds in my favorite media pastel. This one is very small, 5x7 hardly ever work that size, no room to work in more detail for color. The main drawback is not being able to mix color, so this is just off of the more reddish brown they are, lots of stuff a little off actually, I'll do better with more practice. Also don't understand reflections yet so just had to mash it in. If it looks like it's standing on one leg it is, maybe I should put in two anyway.

Always willing to hear comments and critiques
Am. Avocet at Shollenberger Park pastel 5x7
Colleen how delightful several glasses of Zinfandel just slightly cooled ,underneath a blue Californian sky and a tempting side salad.Must get back to my claret and a rather tasty piece of roast beef.

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Old Sunday 21st June 2009, 15:41   #7
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How nice of you all to join me and to get some feedback, I agree the oil is a better sketch, but probably because I worked out some things in the pastel that helped me. I will keep using both and love to hear how it strikes you. Oils are new to me, been using them a couple of years, but lately I do seem to be getting the hang of them more.

here is a link to the winery....which is a tiny one about a mile from me that makes a French style wine, different than most around here
http://www.swanwinery.com/

Off to go observe the avocets.......If I were going to get a cheap starter scope ( all I can afford right now) what would some of you say to look for...I saw an angled eye Tamron with tripod for under $100, I need something that will stay still unless there is some trick to keeping the bins steady...which still makes it hard to draw, having to refind the bird each go.

Thank you all so much for being here and responding....Its the only way to learn. Here is the stilts page I figured out why it would upload.
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Old Sunday 21st June 2009, 16:08   #8
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Angled is the way to go, Colleen. They are slightly more difficult to line the subject up to begin with, but for sketching, the facility to be able to see your drawing and the subject in the same field of view is invaluable.
Most bird artists use this design - but not all.
There's a thread or two about field sketching gear that someone may be able to find a link to . . .
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Old Sunday 21st June 2009, 17:58   #9
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Lovely work Colleen and welcome to BF looking forward to a lot more
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Old Monday 22nd June 2009, 02:43   #10
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Excellent jizz with the stilts, Colleen -- sometimes distant subjects are better for this sort of work, keeps you from getting too caught up in the details!
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Old Monday 22nd June 2009, 06:05   #11
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sometimes distant subjects are better for this sort of work, keeps you from getting too caught up in the details!
So true, in my other wildlife work I got so dependent on my camera, and getting all the details, I'm finding the bird work and esp the field sketching, a liberating experience, also birds are a natural for this with the simple forms, not like a horse for instance, all the many parts and pieces...muscles and bones...feathers are so nice. Of course I haven't tried any difficult patterns yet, I know from doing a detailed turkey how tricky all those feathers can be.
doing stilts is very zen....
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Old Monday 22nd June 2009, 09:30   #12
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great debut-welcome aboard
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Old Monday 22nd June 2009, 16:05   #13
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Great, they look exactly like birds seen through "shaky bins!" :0)
Seriously, I'm jealous. So far my limited talent has been concentrating on botanicals and I'm just starting to try birds. Nothing as good as yours yet. I'm mostly working from photos right now. The birds at our downtown lake pose very nicely but it's so hot right now that I have trouble concentrating. Well, that's my excuse for now. We'll see what happens in the fall. Keep posting, I'm eager to see more.
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Old Monday 22nd June 2009, 16:20   #14
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By the way, one of the ads that appears when I view your thread is for Bird-be-Gone "Low cost, high quality bird control products that work. Guaranteed." Obviously no human brain involved in internet advertising.
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Old Monday 22nd June 2009, 16:20   #15
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Considering you're a relative beginner, your work is good. Far better than I could ever achieve.
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Old Monday 22nd June 2009, 18:05   #16
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thanks Ed, I'm a fan of your work here,
CJC I saw that too, weird huh, Although I'm a good animal artist, have to say birds are a whole new world, really wild animals, not like a zoo or captive. like I've done before. And without field sketching no matter how bad mine is, and some are really scribbles, I don't think it will be possible to do a bird work that really would make me happy. Something happens in the field work, it transforms the copy photo syndrome, into real creativity. I do use photos but they do not dictate to me what the painting is to become, they support the vision that came in the field.

Paula, I'm not that talented, I just work really really hard and that makes up for almost everything

I have a goal of becoming competent by Sept, if you want to know why the answer is on my blog here. To do that in the face of such a overwhelming mass of birds, new media, and all the rest, I have to focus, or I'll just feel paralyzed by the task. So I have a plan .....well seriously, I do. I'm going to do one each of all the birds I've studied so far, in each of the 3 media I use pastel, oil and the dreaded watercolor. That means 3 paintings of each species as single birds. I find each media helps me refine my work in different ways. When I finish that I will go back and do one painting of each species using a group. I find more than one bird in a painting sets up a whole new challenge, the birds are in relationship, making compositional decisions more complex. I've done the avocet already in pastel and oil so, here is the watercolor...I wonder if I'm ever going to make peace with this media, in the field it's the best, but I never seem to get the colors I want, this avocet is too pink. This must be a female the beak is less curved( I am learning as I go along, but will never be a expert like the naturalist-artists here)
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Old Tuesday 23rd June 2009, 03:42   #17
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Today I focused on a hard one Brants Goose. I only saw them once for about 10 min, before I owned any bins, I did a few sketches mostly scribble, so I used the photos a lot, most of them were blurry so not much detail, that's OK I'm not prime for detail yet. I can see I need to do some plein aire studies on water, (excuse) these are more like an exercise than made to be "art"

The goose form is new to me, but can study it with the local Canada Geese when I get to it. I notice I don't really have how the neck fits to the body very well here. I wanted to know what would happen if I hadn't observed the bird frequently like I have the avocets and stilts. It was much harder, and it would not be my choice, but these guys were the last of the bunch, only passing through and won't be back for a while.

I was so surprised at the size, the same as the large gulls. There is a certain stiffness in the exercises, I did try for some wing movement on the pastel....I'm very interested in movement, and have worked on how to represent that on other animals....Schatz did it bang up for ducks,
Listed in the order I did them, afraid in the watercolor it looks more like fur than feathers
Brants Goose field sketch, watercolor, oil, pastel
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Old Tuesday 23rd June 2009, 08:55   #18
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your jizz with your birds is brill, to me thats whats makes a painting ....forget the details.
tims very good at showing this with his paintings & sketches.
keep the good work up ..mark
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Old Tuesday 23rd June 2009, 21:12   #19
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It's took me a while to catch up, hope there's some of that Zinfandel left - and if there's any Grenache going! California's always produced better Grenache than France!

I'm really enjoying you 'finding your way' with birds, you don't seem lost to be honest, you've got the shapes, the movement, you've got some great colours and tones, and I would say that you'll be producing some great bird pieces if this is what you call being a beginner. Looking forward to seeing more
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Old Tuesday 23rd June 2009, 22:36   #20
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I wish my beginnings had been as accomplished as yours!

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Old Tuesday 23rd June 2009, 22:51   #21
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I've been at this painting thing for 40 years, only in acrylic, and all abstract. So that counts for something, thankgod. Realism takes a whole new set of skills, and now with a whole new world of birds, there is a lot to learn, I'm trying this time to let the learning evolve from the doing, to let the painting teach me, instead of running off to a class or doing it in the "style" of....This is a rare opportunity, to be a beginner, I'm frustrated sometimes, but I'm so happy there is something new to awaken new inspiration. There is so much I want to do but can't yet. Of course I'm influenced by some of the fine work here, but I know that it represents years of work and knowledge I don't have. It's OK , I'll get there, I'm already way beyond where I would be because of what I've learned from this group.
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Old Tuesday 23rd June 2009, 23:33   #22
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Realism takes a whole new set of skills
Some of us just don't have the patience for all that jazz!

Absolutely love the brants - especially the one displaying. Great stuff all round.
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Old Wednesday 24th June 2009, 08:47   #23
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you never know Deborah, I said exactly those words myself once

The first time I saw grebes in the bay, I thought they were fisherman's
bouys wasn't till the next trip I realized they were birds....then I had a heck of a time trying to figure out how they did that, until my bird guide said they rest bill forward...I drew that shape so many times, and still didn't get it. So I painted 4 studies to get it out of my system, and now I think I understand.

Here is the Grebe set, in order of completion, field studies( mine are so messy compared to others here) pastel 6x9, watercolor 7x8, (you can see my abstract influence here) and the oil 4 views 8x10. In the watercolor the bird was preening it's belly, so the foot was extended to balance but it' just pure form here. They are so funny, and have a line of algae where they float...I put in the brown stain it makes...
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Old Wednesday 24th June 2009, 08:58   #24
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These are superb Colleen - beautiful work.
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Old Wednesday 24th June 2009, 10:19   #25
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Brilliant watercolour of the rolling preen- very inspiring. Hopefully you will soon find some chunky loons to give the same treatment to...
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