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Old Tuesday 14th May 2013, 15:31   #1
solitaryVSong
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The Abstract Bird

I've been thinking of some theme for a new thread to replace my old one, Reviving Ken's Art. Finally I decided that a title that gave fair warning of my abstract tendencies might be best. So here you have it, The Abstract Bird.

As anyone who has followed my old thread knows though I'm always torn between realism and abstraction and I've made a real effort to do more field sketches over the years. In particular I've wanted to be able to do field sketches of the amazing wood warblers of North America(at least in summer that is). In any case here to start the thread are what I think are my most successful warbler field sketches yet, done just last week.

Eventually they'll be replaced by more abstract work I'm sure.

Page one, a Black-throated Green Warbler and Northern Parula on left and a Blackburnian Warbler and Prothonotary Warbler on right.

Page two, a fairly unsuccessful version of Least Flycatcher, Magnolia Warbler, even more unsuccessful Sandhill Crane in flight on left, and Black-throated Blue Warbler and Ovenbird on right.

Page three, a Yellow Warbler and subtly beautiful Warbling Vireo on left with Horned Lark and so-so Least Sandpiper on right.

Page four a Red-eyed Vireo and distantly seen Swamp Sparrow on left and a male American Redstart, male Rose-breasted Grosbeak and head of American Woodcock on right.

Finally on page five, a Blue-winged Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo and Bay-breasted Warbler on left with Nashville Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler and American Woodcock on right.

As you can probably tell this was quite an assortment of birds to see and I wasn't able to sketch all of them. The high point of trip might have been though when a woman came up beside me and watched me sketch the Blackburnian I think. Then she said something like "You've made my day. This is almost better than the birds themselves, to see someone sketching amidst all of these cameras!!".
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Old Friday 17th May 2013, 22:48   #2
Bigshent
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An apt name for your new thread and some great sketches to set the ball rolling
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Old Monday 20th May 2013, 20:43   #3
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great sketches
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Old Saturday 25th May 2013, 14:09   #4
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Thanks Paul, Gaby.

My intent here was to show more finished work that also most likely will show my abstract predilections. But I'm still doing watercolor sketches, not finished and not very abstract.

So for the time being, a Bay-breasted Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Great Egret and Black and White Warbler, all in watercolor at 8.5x5.5 inches.

Eventually I hope to show more prints here. But first I have to start them!
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Old Monday 27th May 2013, 04:19   #5
JennyMK
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Great sketches, and that remark from the lady would have made my day also... And lovely light in the great egret!
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Old Saturday 1st June 2013, 00:41   #6
Oskar Moilanen
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I like the straight-forward style of your watercolour sketches. The painting of the egret shows the beauty in the structure of the bird well, but still in some way I find it kind of creepy.
It may sound like a weird compliment but it is sincere, I was drawn to it.
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Old Saturday 1st June 2013, 22:14   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oskar Moilanen View Post
I like the straight-forward style of your watercolour sketches. The painting of the egret shows the beauty in the structure of the bird well, but still in some way I find it kind of creepy.
It may sound like a weird compliment but it is sincere, I was drawn to it.
Thanks Oskar and Jenny. Oskar I deliberately concentrated on getting the bend of the neck right here. I wanted to make sure I got the structure correct. Unfortunately I didn't get the torso quite right and it's a bit small for the size of neck and head. That might be part of why it seems 'creepy.' That's only a guess of course but I did want to at least suggest that as a possibility.

I keep doing these small 5.5x8.5 watercolor studies with the intent of going on to more abstract prints or paintings. But I'm still stuck here.

So, a Ring-billed Gull with Lesser Yellowlegs, a White-throated Sparrow, a Pileated Woodpecker right before slams his head and bill into the hole in the tree, and finally an Ovenbird.
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Old Wednesday 5th June 2013, 23:28   #8
matthewlissimore
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Great work, keep it up! :)
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Old Saturday 15th June 2013, 12:34   #9
Bigshent
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The Ovenbird looks a certain larger abstract from you Ken
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Old Tuesday 18th June 2013, 14:21   #10
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The Ovenbird looks a certain larger abstract from you Ken
Thanks all. Paul I do think I'll have a new abstract lino one of these days. I keep toying with ideas and not really getting anywhere.

In the meantime a few recent Conte sketches: immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron from a few summers ago, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker from a few winters ago, and a recent Solitary Sandpiper.

I hope that one of these days all these sketches will result in something more finished.
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Old Tuesday 18th June 2013, 17:09   #11
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I think the sapsucker picture in particular is really terrific, brilliantly drawn postures and great overall effect!
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Old Thursday 20th June 2013, 04:35   #12
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Ken, I haven't gotten down here much recently, but really like some of this recent work. The Pileated and Ovenbird both are quite interesting, and the sapsuckers and solitary are nice work too. Nice to see you doing well with such a variety of birds.
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Old Sunday 23rd June 2013, 08:00   #13
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Great sketches! You have good hand!
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Old Thursday 27th June 2013, 20:00   #14
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Thanks all. Good to hear from you again Gretchen. Are you back in the states for a bit now?

When I stopped contributing to my old thread it took me awhile to think of a topic for a new one. Then I did, The Abstract Bird. But I've yet to show anything even vaguely abstract.

So here's few early version of a new linocut/woodcut/reduction linocut. My idea was to print the background using a woodblock, then use the reduction method on a linoleum block using multiple colors, esp. the yellow and olive yellow for the Black-throated Green Warbler, and then tie it all together with black on a second linoleum block, all the while presuming that everything would register just fine from one block to the next.

Well things got a bit complicated and I think that the first linoleum block is a bit out of registration with the wood block and the second linoleum block. So I've done a lot of experimenting here, sometimes making the last linoleum block the second and the second last, or some variation.

In any case here are a few of the current proofs. I might do a final print using any or none of them. I had intended to use yellow for the bird and much else on the first linoleum block, then overprint most areas with olive green and green. You can see this in 2 and 3 below. But that yellow is just so overpowering, and out of registration, that I experimented with printing the final black first as in number 1. then I just print the yellow of the head on top. Finally in number 4 I used an olive green rather than the yellow. I should try to print just the yellow for the head and see how it looks but I'm not hopeful.

In any case at least I'm now showing some abstract birds....
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Old Saturday 29th June 2013, 18:16   #15
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OK. I finally seem to have arrived at the direction I want to go in for this combination linocut woodblock print. This includes the first background color printed on Shina plywood and then the first color on the first linoleum block.

I'll add some colors on this first lino block and then I hope finish everything off and tie it all together with black on a second lino block. One of the most difficult things here was the second color. Though this bird is called a Black-throated GREEN the color often looks a bit more yellow orange than it does yellow green. I finally decided on the oranger color used here.
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Old Saturday 29th June 2013, 18:31   #16
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Looking good, Ken...can't wait to see the finished piece - it will definitely be worth the effort!..
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Old Monday 1st July 2013, 19:39   #17
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This is another world for uninitiates like me to the art of what you do. I was thinking if there's too much of the same colour in both the foliage and the bird behind, it flattens the overall image. So you would be looking for some limited touches of extra/brighter colour in the bird's head, to give it some shining locator beacon effect?
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Old Monday 1st July 2013, 22:24   #18
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I was thinking if there's too much of the same colour in both the foliage and the bird behind, it flattens the overall image. So you would be looking for some limited touches of extra/brighter colour in the bird's head, to give it some shining locator beacon effect?
Exactly right Ed both for aesthetic and naturalistic reasons. The head of the Black-throated Green is a bright combination of yellow, black and olive green with some bronzy tints in the olive. Unfortunately I've lost some of the brilliance I was hoping for.

I'm including the newest version without the final black block. I'm also enclosing the newest version with the last black block printed. I won't print the black until I think I've finished all of the other colors. But I can't resist sacrificing a few prints along the way to overprint in black just so I have some idea as to what it might look like at the end.

I probably won't let all of this black print because I want to avoid a cartoonish look. Time will tell........................
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Old Friday 5th July 2013, 17:53   #19
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Well here it finally is. A small linocut/woodcut/reduction linocut. 4x6 inches print alone and 7x9 inches with border. It's a bit subtle and subdued for me and it will take awhile for me to decide whether to continue in that direction. The Black-throated Green is so striking though, like the Blackburnian, that I'm sometimes tempted to understate them
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Old Monday 8th July 2013, 12:00   #20
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Love it!
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Old Tuesday 9th July 2013, 23:30   #21
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Love it!
Same as that bloke Ken
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Old Thursday 11th July 2013, 19:55   #22
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Thanks Nick, Paul.

Here's a new and much simpler one. Still combines lino, woodcut and reduction lino but I really concentrated on the black lines here with everything else secondary.

A couple of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers on a tree. Image is 4x6 inches and entire print is 7x9. Printed on Japanese Hosho paper.
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Old Friday 12th July 2013, 21:36   #23
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Thanks Nick, Paul.

A couple of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers on a tree. Image is 4x6 inches and entire print is 7x9. Printed on Japanese Hosho paper.
Seems extra-classy this one. It might be simplified/stylised overall, but at the same time that turned head on lower bird is very true in a bird-as-seen way.
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Old Saturday 13th July 2013, 10:54   #24
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This is a real gem, Ken...love the energy in the top bird and (it seems) curiosity in the lower. Great treatment which has added much to the already superb initial sketches!..
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Old Friday 19th July 2013, 17:09   #25
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Thanks Ed, Nick. I think I just had some good poses to begin with and tried to let them dominate. If I could just come up with some more that are equally striking.
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