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Old Thursday 27th August 2009, 14:43   #101
solitaryVSong
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I'm becoming quite fond of geese these days, mainly because they have big, clearly seen shapes and seem to sit still more than most birds.

I've again debated posting these two field sketches. I hope that in a week or two they will show one more step in the progress I've made since starting with watercolor field sketches about a week ago.

As I worked on them I realized many areas that I'd need to improve in the future, especially the rendering of feather tracts in watercolor. But I also greatly enjoyed doing them. One of these days I need to get back to studio work but for now I'm enjoying the opportunity to get outside every couple of days. Better do it while the weather's so beautiful!
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Old Thursday 27th August 2009, 16:15   #102
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These are great - the first one has really strong abstract shapes and the colours are wonderful.. It's really working for you and it shows.
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Old Saturday 29th August 2009, 14:20   #103
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Thanks Tim,

Sometimes I look at them and am happy and at others I think I never should have posted them. But most important, to me anyway, I see the possibilities in them. A few more weeks of this and I think (hope!) I'll be getting comfortable working with watercolor in the field. That will be a tremendous accomplishment for me. And also give me something to enjoy for years to come. Can't beat that!
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Old Monday 31st August 2009, 19:01   #104
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Some really nice work here lately Ken. The familiarity with both the subject and the working methods is starting to come through loud and clear.

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Old Wednesday 2nd September 2009, 15:07   #105
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Thanks Mike,

Well I've thoroughly put and end to any good work today!! The worst I've done in weeks. Brush was too loaded with water and all I have are muddy messes to show, which is why I'm not showing them. But jackhammers tearing up the asphalt outside the house got me up and out hours earlier than usual. That was good for seeing birds but probably had a very deleterious effect on my watercolor field sketches!

Tomorrow's another day though..............

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Old Wednesday 2nd September 2009, 17:47   #106
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Don't worry Ken, the same thing happened to me as I started, you will get the idea of how much water to put in as you go along. Like aiming a cannon, first you over shoot, then you under shoot, and that tells you exactly how much you need. Then comes the water issue of when can you paint into the damp paint at just the right time...see Lars works for a lot of ideas on this...he also mentions in one of his books how tricky this can be when you have to know just how damp the paper is for which kind of effect you want...My little mantra as I'm learning is "it's all about the water" both in the paint and on the paper. It comes with practice tho. The other thing is, each paper changes how much water is needed, so you may want to stick with one kind for a while.
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Old Thursday 3rd September 2009, 03:09   #107
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Don't worry Ken, the same thing happened to me as I started, you will get the idea of how much water to put in as you go along. Like aiming a cannon, first you over shoot, then you under shoot, and that tells you exactly how much you need. Then comes the water issue of when can you paint into the damp paint at just the right time...see Lars works for a lot of ideas on this...he also mentions in one of his books how tricky this can be when you have to know just how damp the paper is for which kind of effect you want...
Hi Colleen,

The cannon analogy is good! First I tried the teeny brush that came with the field box and it was too small. So today I tried a #8 Winsor Newton, with too much water as well, and everything was blobby. Then each blob merged with the next because I didn't have the patience to let it dry. It didn't seem humid but maybe it was because things just seemed to take forever to dry.

I am at least using the same type of paper, a Moleskin watercolor sketchbook, so that's one variable that's not changing.

I think I need to work with a #6 brush as my primary brush for paper this size so I'll try that next. And bring along a rag, rather than just the clothes I plan to wear to work, to use as something to dry off the brush! I should have known it would be a bad day when one of the half pans of watercolor came out of the set and when I picked it up I then got ultramarine blue all over myself.

I did some sketches I liked of a Green Heron the other day but didn't post them here because I wanted to instead show my progress with watercolor field sketches. Today was supposed to be the day where I reached the next step in my watercolor evolution.

The best laid plans of mice and men...................
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Old Friday 4th September 2009, 15:21   #108
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On Sunday I did a couple of field sketches of a first year Green Heron that I was happy with. I also took a lot of photos. Sharing the scope with my wife didn't give me the time to try any live watercolors. But I wasn't worried; I thought with all these photos, along with the sketches, I can do a studio watercolor.

Well I'm not done yet but you can see the results. Not exactly fresh! Since I always tend to have trouble with backgrounds I decided to do that first. I think I immediately made it too dark and the whole subsequent picture was affected. So it's nowhere near as light and fresh as I'd like.

But it's been so long since I posted any work that I decided to post these anyway. I'll do more work on the watercolor. (I did a little more work on Saturday and have slipped it in. I'm still not thrilled but I do think this version is finished). Most likely I'll also try another version.

Had to decide today between this and trying to find a lifer Swallow-tailed Kite that has been in the vicinity for last 5 days or so. I'm so frustrated by not having done any passable work recently that I went with the watercolor. Hopefully we'll get out in search of the kite over next few days........
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Old Friday 4th September 2009, 15:33   #109
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On Sunday I did a couple of field sketches of a first year Green Heron that I was happy with. I also took a lot of photos. Sharing the scope with my wife didn't give me the time to try any live watercolors. But I wasn't worried; I thought with all these photos, along with the sketches, I can do a studio watercolor.

Well I'm not done yet but you can see the results. Not exactly fresh! Since I always tend to have trouble with backgrounds I decided to do that first. I think I immediately made it too dark and the whole subsequent picture was affected. So it's nowhere near as light and fresh as I'd like.

But it's been so long since I posted any work that I decided to post these anyway. I'll do more work on the watercolor. Most likely I'll also try another version.

Had to decide today between this and trying to find a lifer Swallow-tailed Kite that has been in the vicinity for last 5 days or so. I'm so frustrated by not having done any passable work recently that I went with the watercolor. Hopefully we'll get out in search of the kite over next few days........
Hey- a big yes for the right hand sheet of drawings in particular.
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Old Friday 4th September 2009, 15:34   #110
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Brilliant design, Ken and I have to disagree with your assessment - I think this is extremely successful.
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Old Friday 4th September 2009, 17:53   #111
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agreed, a colourful quirky character here!
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Old Friday 4th September 2009, 21:18   #112
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These are great Ken
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Old Saturday 5th September 2009, 14:42   #113
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Thanks all!

I still have my reservations, somewhere along the lines of Mike's Balzac quote regarding the hand not painting what the eye sees. This should have been more high key, especially for the water, and much brighter. But I guess I'll have to settle for this. I'm still struggling with keeping my watercolors light and bright, at least when I want them to be! Some of Nick's recent work shows that darker valued work can also be truly striking.

I did really like the right sketches, Ed, of this odd looking little heron. So I thought he was a great subject for a painting. He was also a first year bird so he had more striking markings, especially those zigzag patterns on the flanks, than the usual green heron. I was really hoping to capture all of that.

And he seemed to take on a greatly designed pose without me doing anything. So I can't take much credit for that, except having the sense to use it I guess!

Anyway I'm always happy to hear that some people like what I do! Hopefully the next one will show some improvements in the way I handle watercolor, values and light.

P.S. I did slip in the very slightly modified finished version into the previous post.
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Old Monday 7th September 2009, 18:35   #114
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I think it's time to get out to the garden and transplant some tiny kale seedlings and do some other garden work. This all needs to be done but the main reason is to get away from my newest pastel drawing which I'm posting here.

Over all my many days of drawing geese and mallards live I kept thinking that they were really all very handsome. My last day there I also took some photos, thinking that I might use them in more developed work. That's what I doing here.

I also have an almost pathological aversion to seeing all the white disappear in either a drawing or watercolor(even if it eventually does!) So I'm stopping this drawing for now and going out to the garden. I probably need to get rid of some of the white, even if it's just with a few light strokes. But for now I'm letting it sit.

Also including a tweaked version of the Green Heron. After I posted what I thought was the finished watercolor I realized that my fine tuning had bent the bill to an impossible angle. I've straightened it out as best I could. Any more straightening will have to be in a new work.
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Old Tuesday 8th September 2009, 14:28   #115
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It took more than a little garden work to convince myself that I needed to develop the white areas of this drawing. After a good night's sleep I went back to work and I think finished this pastel.

Valley Green is a part of the Wissahickon Creek in Philadelphia that is accessible by car. Also there's a restaurant there. So the ducks and geese all hang out together waiting for handouts. Thus this is an accurate picture of what I saw in terms of the bird grouping.
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Old Tuesday 8th September 2009, 15:32   #116
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And a nice little group it is too. The gardening paid dividends I think; The white was a bit overbearing.

Birding from a restaurant, now that's what I call luxury!

Mike
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Old Tuesday 8th September 2009, 22:51   #117
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And a nice little group it is too. The gardening paid dividends I think; The white was a bit overbearing.

Birding from a restaurant, now that's what I call luxury!

Mike
I concur....nice treatment of the water too.
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Old Wednesday 9th September 2009, 02:02   #118
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Glad you went back and finished this -- I particularly like the greenish hue of the water reflected in the belly of the greylag. My favourite of yours so far!
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Old Wednesday 9th September 2009, 07:53   #119
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Glad you went back and finished this -- I particularly like the greenish hue of the water reflected in the belly of the greylag. My favourite of yours so far!
That's just about how I see it too. Fine work.
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Old Wednesday 9th September 2009, 13:11   #120
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Thanks all! I can't tell you how reluctant I was to go back into it!! I just have this inordinate fear of the entire thing petrifying if I work too much on it! I always felt free to leave lots of unfinished surface in my abstract work and I think that still is with me.

But I'm happy that I did go back in and that you all like it! I do too. Maybe I'll be less reluctant now to do more finished pictures.

I think I've already gotten a whole lot from my visits to this forum: first starting to work from life, and second, finishing off a picture. The forum, which is really the people using it, is really the best tutorial in using birds as subject matter in art that anyone could ask for!
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Old Thursday 10th September 2009, 10:15   #121
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Valley Green is a part of the Wissahickon Creek in Philadelphia that is accessible by car. Also there's a restaurant there. So the ducks and geese all hang out together waiting for handouts. Thus this is an accurate picture of what I saw in terms of the bird grouping.
Can't count how many times I was there feeding the ducks as a little girl! You make me quite homesick as you write about the beautiful green spaces in Philly

I am enjoying seeing it all again through your eyes as birder and artist.

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Old Thursday 10th September 2009, 13:58   #122
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Can't count how many times I was there feeding the ducks as a little girl! You make me quite homesick as you write about the beautiful green spaces in Philly

I am enjoying seeing it all again through your eyes as birder and artist.
Hi Gretchen,

What a surprise to find a message from China! I'm happy to bring back memories of Valley Green and the green spaces of Philadelphia to you. It's one of the things that I most love about Philadelphia. I and my wife are not natives but we've both been here over 25 years so I guess that makes us quasi-natives. We live in Roxborough/Manayunk and one of the reasons we moved to that part of Philadelphia is that it is so close to the Wissahickon! It's hard to believe that you're in a major city when you walk along its paths.

I hope that I'll have some more art that is based on birds seen somewhere near the Wissahickon in the months to come. We saw many migrating warblers at Carpenters Woods last weekend but they were just too fast for my slow sketching!! I hope to at least get sketches of a few before migration is over for this year.

Ken
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Old Friday 11th September 2009, 13:17   #123
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wonderfully balanced composition and gorgeous vibrant colours - a pleasure to see.
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Old Friday 11th September 2009, 14:38   #124
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wonderfully balanced composition and gorgeous vibrant colours - a pleasure to see.
Thanks Nick. After a week or two of disappointing work it's nice to have one I'm happy with!
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Old Monday 14th September 2009, 13:52   #125
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I've been too busy to get any work done for the last week or so. Finally yesterday I was able to grab a few hours. There wasn't time to get outside so I decided to work from this photo I took of the first Killdeer of spring.

I could have continued in charcoal and pastel which is far more comfortable to me than watercolor but I want to pursue watercolor. I also could have made the Killdeer larger but I liked the water in front of and reeds behind him and wanted to make them an important part of the painting.

Only one problem: I didn't want to do the water or reeds in detail and thought I'd be able to improvise an impression of them. But I always overestimate my ability to improvise an impression, especially in watercolor!

Watercolor remains a learning experience.
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