Quail in the Bush – 20th Painting for June 20th

Quail in the Bush – Watercolor 5″x7″

This cute “Quail in the Bush” painting had to be another compromise with my competing painting requirements; challenge vs watercolor classes. He started as a demonstration for my community education watercolor class, where we are focusing on the fundamental topic of texture. This week we played with adding cheesecloth, alcohol, bleach, lifting, wax, scraping, and more, to watercolor pigment. After doing some texture inspiration studies, we did a “paint along” using a photo of a quail my husband and I saw on a walk the other morning, as our reference.

During the walk, we had our super zoomy lens on the camera. Those quail do scurry fast away from scary humans. With the zoomy telephoto lens, he didna even know we caught him in the act of being super silhouetted in the morning light.

Source Photo

I do not have images or video to illustrate the painting progression, as usual, so we’ll just have to rely on descriptive text this time.

To begin, we decided on a small format (5.5″x7.5″) Arches 140 lb cold press paper. We taped the edges all around, ’cause we knew we were gonna get wet! The only pre-drawing was a soft diagonal line to indicate the distinction between the foreground and the background. I like to set up elements on a diagonal to create a sense of movement. We also penciled in an oblong diamond shape for the quail placement. I could have done a better job of keeping the bird out of the center, but in the end, the plume is placed quite nicely at the golden mean cross-section of the whole composition. Nice! I wish I could say it was intentional. ha!

We used wax resist sticks to save some random twigs and dots for the highlights on the bushes, and to save the critical highlight on the back of the quail’s back and head.

We painted the background wet-into-wet. We wet the area above the diagonal line with clear water, then dried the paper back slightly. We caressed in some Ultramarine Light (Holbein), Hansa Yellow Deep (Daniel Smith) into the wet. We let some blue and yellow show independently but created soft blends of the two for a nice olive green blur.

After the background dried slightly, we puddled some blue, yellow and Pyrrol Red (Daniel Smith) into the bottom left corner, then pushed cheesecloth (with the strings “pulled about” for an organic look) into the wet paint. We dabbed strong pigment (all three colors) on top of the cheesecloth to make it “stick.”

We blew with a straw into the runny pigment, up and to the right to create some twigs and branch effects. We puddled the same mix of colors into the lower right of the painting and blew a bit more with the straw. We splattered with all three colors over all the foreground. Some of the splatters crept into the wet background, creating some unintended water bursts. It was tempting to “fix” them, but we just let them be.

We mixed up a strong (milky strength) dark pigment with the blue and red and painted in the dark mounds for the quail to rest. The wax application kept us from losing our highlights. So far, we just pretended the bird wasn’t even a part of the painting.

Stage 1 – Quail in the Bush

After drying the painting slightly, I painted the silhouette of the quail into the penciled diamond shape. I took care now to create the curves. I saved the bird’s plume for last. I tried to do it with just one “smush” calligraphy stroke, but I ended up doing it twice because I didn’t have a good paint load on the brush. Now the plume was too big. Sigh.

We added some hints of branches, twigs, and grasses on the shadow side of the white wax highlights. We dried back the painting again and added a darker middle to the quail plume. We scratched a little with a sharp knife to connect some of the “blobs” of wax.

That is where the class demonstration ended. We discussed removing the wax and softening some highlights.

After returning to my studio, I removed the wax by placing the painting face down on some Viva clothlike paper towels, put a lint-free cloth over the back and ironed the painting. The paper towel “sucks” the wax out of the paper. I have video of this process (with a different painting) posted on my Youtube channel, click the link Wax Resist Removal.

Also on my Youtube channel you can see my studio adjustments (Or just click the arrow below).

If you’re interested in purchasing this sweet little painting, it can be done for a mere $150 with frame.

This little guy will be dressed up in a frame and hanging on a gallery wall for my Featured Artist’s Show with Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery in July 2019 (unless sold prior to the show). Artist’s reception July 18th from 4-7pm. I hope you can stop by?

If purchasing with a PayPal account or a credit/debit card through PayPal, you save a ton on shipping ($15). Check payers and those living outside of the continental U.S. will incur additional shipping charges. Nevada residents also have to pay sales tax.

I appreciate all comments, questions, and suggestions. Thank you for stopping by.

Quail in the Bush $165 (w/ frame/mat)


 

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