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Old Friday 14th August 2009, 15:27   #76
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A couple more quick fieldsketches before work today. The place I go, Valley Green in Philadelphia, is full of hybrid ducks and geese. There are some regular Canada Geese and Mallards here, but also some hybrids. And a couple of bad sketches of those flighty Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds from the backyard!
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Old Friday 14th August 2009, 17:16   #77
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the canada on the first sheet is wonderfully done
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Old Saturday 15th August 2009, 13:27   #78
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Originally Posted by ARTHUR BISHOP View Post
I realy like were you ended up . dont give up on the water colours looking forward to more
Thanks Arthur! I'm sure I'll be back to the watercolors soon. I do love watercolor, for better or worse, so I'll keep pursuing it.
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Old Saturday 15th August 2009, 13:28   #79
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Thanks Nick,

I never appreciated what great drawing material Canada Geese were until they were the only subjects around, and they tended to sit still, or at least not move away instantly like the hummers.........

Ken
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Old Tuesday 18th August 2009, 15:22   #80
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Well Mike seems to be better than me in dealing with a public audience while working. My sketching was cut short today because I got involved in talking to a couple of passersby and used up my short amount of time.

The one good side of this, outside of an interesting conversation, is that I found out the geese I've thought were Graylags are actually Chinese Geese. So I learned something valuable.

I'm including a couple of sketches of them from today, along with a Canada Goose foot, and a hybrid duck on one sheet. The other includes a 3-legged Green Heron, the extra legs being due to the fact that he changed position. The new one was more interesting but I ended up getting neither. Also a young Flicker.

We've had a stray kitten in backyard for a week or two so I started a sketch of him while waiting for the coals to heat up for grilling Sunday night. Sadly he seems to have disappeared as of yesterday and my wife fears the worst. So this minor little sketch may be the last we see of him. I certainly hope we're wrong.
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Old Tuesday 18th August 2009, 16:26   #81
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very nice chinese geese, excellent little portrait. I think the green heron is fine with three legs, I know I often stick several legs and heads onto one body in a sketch. Love the flicker too, great action. Hope the kitten pops back, I wouldn't start to worry about him just yet, they like to go off and do their own thing.
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Old Tuesday 18th August 2009, 17:09   #82
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Some very confident draawings happening here Ken - very nice.
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Old Wednesday 19th August 2009, 13:06   #83
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Thanks so much Tim and Nick,

I can't remember it if was Colleen or Deborah who mentioned that it took them 4-6 weeks to get comfortable working from life once they started. I'm not there yet but it is getting to seem a bit more natural for me. I think these cooperative ducks and geese help also. At least with them I'm actually drawing something rather than sitting out in the backyard waiting fruitlessly for a bird to appear!

As I've been doing these and looking at the great watercolor fieldsketches on the forum I've kept thinking that it might be silly to be working in watercolor pencil and waterbrush when I'd have so much more available to me if I just did straight watercolor. So with a little push from Tim and Colleen I've ordered a field box. Soon I'll be trying them in the field. I'm sure the first attempts will be disappointing but eventually I think they'll be a great plus and my work will show it.........

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Old Wednesday 19th August 2009, 21:25   #84
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Good for you, you'll eventually be so glad you decided to do this. Just FYI from one who has been there when I started 2 months ago, I was very disappointed in my work, cause I was comparing it to Tim's results. Try to just compare it to your own work for a while, not a master like Tim. That being said, Tim's work is where I've learned a bunch, and also I'm currently studying the water colors of Lars Jonnson, trying to figure out piece by piece how he has done certain effects....Busby is another....I try to understand just one thing and then try that out, one thing at a time.
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Old Thursday 20th August 2009, 12:51   #85
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Hi Colleen,

Yes I'm already prepared for a 'learning curve'. I've been on a three-year learning curve with watercolors doing work from photos I took. So I at least have some familiarity. Still I'm sure it's going to be far different working live. But as you say the field sketches of Tim, Nick, Lars Jonsson and others are all inspirational!

Well we'll see soon enough. Can't wait to give them a try. And hope I'm not embarrassed to show the results..........

Ken
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Old Friday 21st August 2009, 00:15   #86
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showing warts and all is how I go, gives others a chance to help me more that way.... for example the first flight sketches of egrets was a disaster as far as I knew, but Nick pointed out how they were descriptive and that gave ma a pointer for the next group and they got better fast.
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Old Friday 21st August 2009, 13:23   #87
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Colleen is right, comparing what we do with how others do it can remove a lot of the enjoyment from our art, we all do it differently, full stop (or period!) It's the artist's prerogative (I'm a stickler for spelling, but I don't know how to spell that word!) to belittle their own work and not see what's good in it, perhaps because the artist's mind is pure and exciting, and then there is the problem of translating the images we have in our heads onto paper with whatever means we decide to use. Our imagination is unbound by the physical limitations of paint and pencils, and so what we paint is never what we envisaged. Every so often I look at my work and think, 'people won't like that', or 'that'll never sell' or 'so and so did it better', but then I have to remind myself that I don't paint for people to like what I do, though selling is nice, it can't be the goal, and I am not so and so, I am me and I do it this way.
Working from life though is a definite must, and increases the pleasure of being out in nature enormously, and as far as depicting nature in art, I think it was Gauguin that said something along the lines of 'not copying nature, but taking inspiration from it and creating something else'. Hence why I don't see meticulous copies of things as being especially artistic (even though technically they are brilliant).
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Old Friday 21st August 2009, 13:45   #88
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Colleen is right, comparing what we do with how others do it can remove a lot of the enjoyment from our art, we all do it differently, full stop (or period!) It's the artist's prerogative (I'm a stickler for spelling, but I don't know how to spell that word!) to belittle their own work and not see what's good in it, perhaps because the artist's mind is pure and exciting, and then there is the problem of translating the images we have in our heads onto paper with whatever means we decide to use. Our imagination is unbound by the physical limitations of paint and pencils, and so what we paint is never what we envisaged. Every so often I look at my work and think, 'people won't like that', or 'that'll never sell' or 'so and so did it better', but then I have to remind myself that I don't paint for people to like what I do, though selling is nice, it can't be the goal, and I am not so and so, I am me and I do it this way.
Working from life though is a definite must, and increases the pleasure of being out in nature enormously, and as far as depicting nature in art, I think it was Gauguin that said something along the lines of 'not copying nature, but taking inspiration from it and creating something else'. Hence why I don't see meticulous copies of things as being especially artistic (even though technically they are brilliant).
Hi Nick,

Very well said, as usual! It's funny in that sometimes I'm very unhappy with my work, but other times I think I'm too accepting. Of course that is less stressful!! But all in all sage advice about accepting what you do as your own work, unique in itself. When I taught art it was one of the things I always tried to get into the heads of my students.

As far as working from life you're absolutely correct. I did figure drawing 5 nights a week for years while working a full time job. It was tiring but I loved it. So I've known how valuable and rewarding it is to work from life. But I just haven't had time, or put enough pressure on myself to do that, when I started using birds as my subject. Thanks to you, Colleen, Tim and others at the forum I finally am working from life. I think the daily inspiration of seeing such good work was just too much. I had to start practicing what I preached!!

By the way I've always thought of my wife as the most knowledgeable person I know in terms of cats. But she had already started mourning the loss of the outdoor kitten I mentioned a couple of posts ago. But you said that cats tended to just go off for days at a time. We both knew that but decided that just couldn't be the case this time. He'd been gone too long. Sure enough the other night though he was at the back door looking for food.
A happy reunion!!

P.S. You did spell prerogative correctly, though I confess I had to look it up.
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Old Friday 21st August 2009, 22:53   #89
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hooray for the kitty! a phoenix:-0(hope I spelled it right,

BTW( they've actually done studies on this,) spelling and intelligence are not correlated, tho mine is none to good, my sister who's IQ is even higher, spells worse than me.

Re the drawing from life, honestly I have to say being out in Nature with the birds is even more pleasurable than the drawing tho I love that, and sometimes I just sit there and watch...completly addicted now.
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Old Friday 21st August 2009, 23:20   #90
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I think then Colleen, that if you can observe, and enjoy without thinking 'I must get a drawing done' then you've won. So many times I've missed seeing something amazing because I had my nose in the sketchbook. People have actually seen me drawing, with bearded tits flying over my head, and I never even noticed them! It's difficult to find the line between observing and reacting to what you see.
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Old Saturday 22nd August 2009, 01:48   #91
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Oh dear Nick, you know I'm not a birder, and that sentence about drawing while the bt's flew over had me rolling on the floor with the mental image.
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Old Saturday 22nd August 2009, 03:19   #92
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Many, many years ago I had a very good seat at a Bob Dylan concert. It was one of his first public performances in 10-20 years.

For some reason I decided to bring my sketchbook and draw the performance. Which I did, though I don't think the end results were particularly good. When it was over I realized I'd missed the entire concert! I'd hardly heard anything. I was too busy drawing, in the dark no less.

There is something addictive about it, for better or worse!
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Old Saturday 22nd August 2009, 09:57   #93
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. . . like the kids who go to gigs nowadays and spend the whole show watching their idols through the 2"screen of their mobile phones as they record the concert. I suppose it says something about our need to own these special events and that sometimes in the quest to satisfy that desire, we can miss the whole point of being there in the first place.
Birding is about the birds - but if something of interest, or beauty and grace, or startling revelation happens whilst watching birds - as more often than not it does - then the desire to make a visual record of the event is compelling and irresistable. That's the 'art' bit. But it can only happen with any degree of success by having the energy to get out there in the first place.
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Old Saturday 22nd August 2009, 18:37   #94
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. . . like the kids who go to gigs nowadays and spend the whole show watching their idols through the 2"screen of their mobile phones as they record the concert. I suppose it says something about our need to own these special events and that sometimes in the quest to satisfy that desire, we can miss the whole point of being there in the first place.
Birding is about the birds - but if something of interest, or beauty and grace, or startling revelation happens whilst watching birds - as more often than not it does - then the desire to make a visual record of the event is compelling and irresistable. That's the 'art' bit. But it can only happen with any degree of success by having the energy to get out there in the first place.
I can never understand why anyone would want to see anything on a teeny cellphone screen. But I'm sure you're right Tim about the desire to own special events.

But when I compare taking photos of birds with drawing them there's just no comparison in terms of enjoyment. The photos, at least for me, are more like a task; getting a photo so I can use for reference for later art work. But it often somewhat lessens the importance of the bird I'm seeing. I always feel like I'm giving the bird short shrift. That's much less so with drawing because then I have to be constantly involved with the bird, its surroundings, etc. I think that involvement generally shows in the sketches of all artists, no matter how abbreviated or quick they might be. And that's why I find the sketches themselves irresistible!

But enough of that. Time to go out and see if any birds are about on this very rainy day. A Whimbrel, very unusual for Philadelphia I think, was spotted briefly in NE Philadelphia today so the rains may have brought down some unusual birds.
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Old Monday 24th August 2009, 14:41   #95
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OK, OK. Against my better judgment I'm including a couple of my first field watercolors. I've logged the myriad problems on my blog and feel like they're not all that interesting, and probably similar to most people's, so I'm not repeating them here.

To summarize: I need 3-4 hands, not just 2!! I was so busy trying to figure out how to hold watercolors, waterholder, brush and sketchbook that I barely had time to do any painting. When I did I was constantly choosing between pencil, tiny collapsible brush, waterbrush, or normal but maybe too large for the paper brush. I guess if nothing else the accompanying sketches show the struggles.

In this case I had no temptation to compare them to Tim or Lars Jonsson. I was just comparing them to myself! And was still unhappy.

But I'm not unhappy in the long run. I've seen some beautiful watercolor field sketches here on the forum and my goal is to do the same, or at least something similar. This is just the first step. I'm sure things will improve over time.

P.S. In case the shapes are so indistinct that you can't even tell what they are, the subjects are mallards and Canada geese.
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Old Monday 24th August 2009, 16:04   #96
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you're being harsh on yourself! True, it can be such a pain picking up the right thing to draw, paint, keep balance, not pour water everywhere etc etc, that will get easier as it becomes a reflex the more you do it. What you've come back with is some great sketchng, colour work forces you to look at a lot more than just the shapes as well you know, what you've produced here describes a lot more vividly what you saw.

Incidentally, I often prefer my field watercolours to studio work, I feel a completely different person painting outdoors and the results are always livelier, fresher and less fussed than studio work. I think it's a result of 'in the field', I try and translate what I see into a manageable image to take back to the studio, then once at home, I take that condensed version and elaborate on it. It's a bit like tomato puree, the tomato's fine, the puree's fine, but when you try and make a sauce with it, many things go wrong. I think now I'd better go and make a cup of tea rather than talk about art and tomatoes!
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Old Monday 24th August 2009, 16:29   #97
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It's a bit like tomato puree, the tomato's fine, the puree's fine, but when you try and make a sauce with it, many things go wrong. I think now I'd better go and make a cup of tea rather than talk about art and tomatoes!
Uh oh, I think you're right. It's way too early for art and tomato analogies!!! I'm on my second cup of espresso and that comparison still has my head spinning.
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Old Monday 24th August 2009, 20:03   #98
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I've learned a lot from Nick, the one that stays most clear is to let the sketch be an honest reaction to what is seen.

The fact that you posted these attests to that being primary and how "good" it looks is way down the list, and comes later in the flow of learning. In my experience, it takes literaly hundreds of sketches of the same bird to get to the good part, where the forms and glyphs you invent to explain what you see are in the hand and ready to go. Like a tennis player practicing the back hand over and over, probably thousands of times, to train the muscles and mind to work together, so in a game she can just hit without thinking of all the parts and pieces.

I do like the tomato and puree analogy tho! like getting all the ingredients,so you can cook a fab dish with just the level of tomato flavor you need.

Barry Pearson has a gem in the DVD on this issue, I'll try to copy it out and post on my thread.
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Old Tuesday 25th August 2009, 15:42   #99
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OK, OK. Against my better judgment I'm including a couple of my first field watercolors. I've logged the myriad problems on my blog and feel like they're not all that interesting, and probably similar to most people's, so I'm not repeating them here.

To summarize: I need 3-4 hands, not just 2!! I was so busy trying to figure out how to hold watercolors, waterholder, brush and sketchbook that I barely had time to do any painting. When I did I was constantly choosing between pencil, tiny collapsible brush, waterbrush, or normal but maybe too large for the paper brush. I guess if nothing else the accompanying sketches show the struggles.

In this case I had no temptation to compare them to Tim or Lars Jonsson. I was just comparing them to myself! And was still unhappy.

But I'm not unhappy in the long run. I've seen some beautiful watercolor field sketches here on the forum and my goal is to do the same, or at least something similar. This is just the first step. I'm sure things will improve over time.

P.S. In case the shapes are so indistinct that you can't even tell what they are, the subjects are mallards and Canada geese.
Well, I'm with you on this one Solitary, I have to admit that i have a problem with taking colour into the field as my sketches will bear out. But your the better for trying and not doing to bad a job of it !!
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Old Thursday 27th August 2009, 14:34   #100
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Well, I'm with you on this one Solitary, I have to admit that i have a problem with taking colour into the field as my sketches will bear out. But your the better for trying and not doing to bad a job of it !!
Thanks Andy! I do think I've made the right decision to try watercolors in the field. I do wonder if it's not as much sport as art! You could probably even charge for admission, like a sporting match. Bets could be made: When will he spll the water? I bet he dips the brush in his coffee by minute number 10. You think he'll drop his brush in the sand again (like I did yesterday) and add some surprise texture to the painting?

I am finally starting to enjoy it a bit, like Nick says. More than anything I see the possibilities! In your case though with such great field drawings I think I'd be happy to stick with them. They are wonderful!
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