Author Archives: reynolds

Sun Conures Talkin’ Smack

“Sun Conures”

Painting #4 of my 15×30 Big Bird March challenge. “Sun Conures” is a 5.5″x7.5″ watercolor on 140lb Saunders Waterford cold press paper. Click on the image to see a larger view in a new browser tab.

I have had this photograph for about 10 years and have always wanted to paint it. I took the photo at the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City. The birds were behind a cage, and the photo had lots of cast shadows from the fence. Challenge! I wanted them to appear to be in the wild.

I painted wet-into-wet directly (no pre-drawing) using Hansa Yellow Medium, New Gamboge, Perinone Orange, by Daniel Smith as well as Sap Green by Schminke and Ultramarine light by Holbein.

See the Youtube still-shot video below for visuals of painting stages as described.

I saturated the paper front and back, then used Viva paper towels to dab up most of the loose water. I began with the Hansa Yellow Medium and New Gamboge, painting the breasts and heads of the birds, leaving the eye and beak area on the left bird untouched. I added Perinone Orange to the heads and tails. Then added the Sap Green for the wings and tails. I lifted off the light side of the branch, then painted the dark under-shadows with blue and orange, letting all the colors mix on the paper. I used the same dark tone (with Ultramarine and orange) to paint the eyes and beaks.

After the paper had dried back enough to hold an edge, I used tea- to coffee-strength pigment to hint at background foliage and branches. I tried to just hint at the talons. I had to make up an additional branch for the right bird to hold (in the photo he was holding on to a metal bar with both its talon and beak).

I love the resulting colors and gestures of the birds. I feel like they are talking smack about me?

Only $95 for this original watercolor painting! The painting is 5.5″x7.5″ in a custom white mat with a black core to fit a standard 8″x10″ frame opening. Shipping $7 (if the painting does not need to be shipped, the shipping charge will be refunded).

 

 

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Baby Robin – Sold!

“Baby Robin”

Just in time for Spring. Painting #3 of my 15×30 Big Bird March challenge. Click on the image to see a larger view in a new browser tab.

This little robin had just left the nest. I had been watching the robin family grow in our front honey locust tree over the previous month or so. Momma and poppa Robin were raising three babies. This baby Robin was the first to spread his (her?) wings. Baby Robin still had trouble with flight. He/she took a respite in our Impatiens pot right in front of me. I felt badly for scaring the poor little soul, but I am not sorry I was able to capture the scene.

I used the wet-in-wet method again. This time, though, I went in DIRECT – without a preliminary drawing. Doing a painting directly surely does make one pay attention to shapes not things.

I used New Gamboge, Transparent Pyrrol Orange and Quinacridone Rose by Daniel Smith, and Ultramarine Light by Holbein throughout the painting.  For the darks, I combined the Orange and Blue. I had a dilemma on which yellow to choose. Should I have used a cooler yellow to achieve some brighter greens?  Or do you like the warmer yellows that are more analogous to the orange in the bird’s breast? I went with the warmer yellow. Maybe I’ll paint this scene again and go the other way, just to do the test?

I quite like the little painting. I wonder whatever happened to Baby Robin? Robin families continued to build nests from year to year. Some years, the nests were built on precarious limbs, and the robin babies did not survive the winds. Or the neighborhood cats. This year, though, I witnessed all three babies fly away, once they found their wings. It made me extraordinarily happy.

This painting is for sale. $95 (Original Watercolor Painting 5.5″x7.5″ in a custom white mat with a black core to fit a standard 8″x10″ frame opening). Shipping $7 if applicable (Shipping payment will be refunded if not required).

 

Flight Silhouette

“Flight Silhouette”

Painting #2 of my 15×30 Big Bird March challenge. “Flight Silhouette” is a 5.5″x7.5″ watercolor on 140lb Arches cold press paper. Click on the image for a larger view in a new browser tab.

I snapped a photo of a red-winged blackbird taking off from the branches of a Russian Olive tree while on my walk around the Empire Ranch golf course and the Carson River. My walk is a veritable bird sanctuary. I often see (and hear) yellow-headed blackbirds, geese galore, many feathers of ducks, red-wing blackbirds, robins, finches, wrens, swallows, starlings, hawks, magpies. It’s so fun to take the “big-guy” camera out and try to capture their activities.

This was a quick wet-into-wet painting. I used Hansa Yellow Light and Medium and Pyrrol Red by Daniel Smith and Ultramarine Light by Holbein.

I first did a light outline drawing of the main shapes, then saturated the paper front and back.

I hinted at the golf greens behind the tree and bird with yellow and blue in quick long strokes on a really wet surface with my large Lowe-Cornell #14 round brush. I added a tiny bit of red at the bottom of the painting as well, again with light, long side strokes of the brush. I left a little area above and to the right of the bird white and let the paint swim in gently. I added a few strokes of a dark blue/red/yellow mixture to give a sense of distant hazy branches.

I painted the silhouette of the bird and tree trunks with the same dark mix while still really wet, so I could get fuzzy edges (to imply movement).

After the paper had dried off to a damp state, I used short pull-push calligraphy strokes for the leaves, and light, pull calligraphy strokes for the thin branches. I changed the color composition for the leaves, skewing it sometimes red, sometimes, blue, sometimes green.

I thickened the paint and painted darks into the big branches and the bird, sometimes softening the edges.

Does it remind you of Halloween? Maybe it will be October in my theoretical bird calendar for 2021?

The painting is for sale, $95 (Original Watercolor Painting 5.5″x7.5″ in a custom white mat with a black core to fit a standard 8″x10″ frame opening). Shipping $7 if applicable (Shipping payment will be refunded if not required).

Goldfinch Dinner

Updated! “Goldfinch Dinner”

Onward with a new challenge for March; the 15×30 Big Bird March. “Goldfinch Dinner” is the first of the series. It is a watercolor 5.5″x7.5″ on 140lb Arches cold press. Click on the images to see a larger view in new browser tabs.

When we lived in Utah, these Lesser goldfinches would come in great flocks to feed on our back yard sunflower forest. We were thrilled to see them also in our new backyard in Nevada. Though, they like a variety of flower seedlings here. We have a lovely bouquet in our front yard each summer.

Front Yard Flowers

This little gal was painted wet-into-wet, using Hansa Yellow Light and Medium, Pyrrol Red and Phthalo Blue (GS), all by Daniel Smith.

Before saturating the paper, I masked off the highlights for the “rim-lighting” effect. After drying off the back of the paper, but leaving the front really wet, I painted the background, first. I put down the blue first, following quickly with red and letting them mix on the paper. I added some yellow as well for an overall gray background. While the paper was still very wet, I painted the whole flower shape and seed pod with the Hansa Yellow Light. I added red and blue to the sunflower center. I added blue and red to the seed pod to create the green. Phthalo and Hansa Yellow make a really bright green, so I had to tone it down a bit for the shadow areas.

I painted the gray feathers of the bird with a mix of phthalo blue and red, skewed more to the blue. I painted the breast of the bird with Hansa Yellow light.  I used the same gray mix for the head, beak and legs/feet. Although, I may have gone too dark on the legs/feet? The first layer I kept quite light. After the paper dried off some, I added some darker tones for the feathers and eyes. I mixed a muddy orange for the shadows on the breast and tail.

I worked the flower petals by adding Hansa Yellow Medium and pulling some of the red out of the center. I painted over the center several more times with strong red and blue pigment.

I dried the painting off with a blow dryer and removed the masking. I found those last tiny details with dark pigment, mostly using the red/blue dark mix. I took a lot of care around the beak and the seed pod. I like how I can see the backside of the beak, inside the mouth of the bird. I painted that first with pure Pyrrol red at tea-strength, then let some blue swim in at the edge.

I added some Pyrrol Red calligraphy strokes with my rigger brush, then signed the painting.

‘Tis a fun little painting to start off my Big Bird March challenge, don’t you think? My goal is to get looser as the month progresses.

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“Goldfinch Dinner” Stage 1

Update! I removed the white spike below the beak.

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Toes Downside Up

This is painting #14 of my 14 x 28 Furry Friends of February challenge. I made it! I completed 14 paintings in February. “Toes Down-side Up” is an 11”x 7.5” watercolor painting on 140 pounds Arches cold press paper. You can see a larger view in a new browser tab by clicking on the image.

I painted wet-into-wet using just five primary colors by Daniel Smith; Pyrrol Red, Manganese Blue, Cobalt Blue, New Gamboge, and Raw Sienna Light. I started out wanting to use Quinacridone Coral but accidentally grabbed Pyrrol Red out of common habit.

I took my time getting the drawing done. At first, I wasn’t going to depict a background, but then I decided it was an interesting element for the overall subject. The pup looked so forlorn, wanting to go out and play. What really attracted me to the photographic reference was how his back paws were facing up. It looks like he’s a little bit deformed, but in fact, it was a common pose for this particular fellow.

After saturating the paper completely front and back, I out all of the colors into separate mixing areas of my palette. This keeps me from drawing paint directly from the wells. I find if I mix it up out into the mixing area, I can tell how strong the paint is. If I draw paint directly from the palette wells then I don’t know how strong or weak the pigment is on my brush. This is one of the most complex things to learn as a watercolor artist, adjusting the pigment strength correctly. Since I had the paper really wet, I mixed up my pigment stronger than I normally would when starting a painting.

I began by painting the background outside the window with Manganese and Gamboge to hint at the foliage. I had previously masked off some random whites in that area to give the effect of highlights on the leaves. I then mixed up a good light gray tone using some of the Manganese with a little bit of Pyrrol and Gamboge. I had also masked off the strong white vertical (sliding door edge). With the masked areas, I could be freer when painting. I had also masked off a few hair highlights on the dog.

I started painting the dog with some of the gray tones in the core shadow and then moving into the sort of brownish tannish orange spots on the dog. For the brown hair, I used mostly raw Sienna with a little Pyrrol and Gamboge.

I painted the first layer using paint that was about a medium strength pigment (between say coffee- and milk-strength). The paper had started to dry before I reached the bottom part of the dog so I was able to hold an edge around the toes.

For the area rug, I first painted in squiggles of blue, then red, leaving white areas untouched. The paper was dry enough that the edges held. I then loaded some pretty strong Raw Sienna on the brush and painted over the white areas. I thought it looked just like an Oriental rug.  What do you think?

After putting down the first layer of color, I went back in to pull out the darker values for the eyes, nose, and ears. I used a really strong mix (creamy-strength) of the Cobalt Blue, Pyrrol Red and Raw Sienna Light for my dark, skewing to one color or the other, depending on the feature.

I have video clips of the process. I will have to check the clips, but I believe this took me about an hour to paint, after about 15 minutes of drawing. A fun little painting it was. Thanks, Cassie for being such a fun little model. I’m told by her one-time Momma, she is a Maltese and Jack Russell Terrier mix.

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Window Bathing (Sold!)

“Window Bathing”

This little one flew off the brush in about 30 minutes (painting) and 8 minutes drawing. Painting #13 of my 14×28 Furry Friends of February challenge. I painted it with “Cactus Cat” from yesterday’s post, but I thought she deserved her own post. Click on the image for a larger view in a new browser tab.

This is a common pose for this kitty and I imagine kitties everywhere. She was lapping up the sun in front of the window, keeping us from making the bed.

I used the wet-to-dry method for the painting. After masking off a few white whiskers and hairs and letting the masking dry, I saturated the paper front and back. While the paper soaked, I mixed up three piles of paint; red, yellow, and blue; Indanthrone Blue, Pyrrol Red, and New Gamboge.

I dried the back of the paper off with Viva paper towels and dabbed up the light edges on the front. I painted the background first with all three colors, starting with blue, then caressing in red and yellow while the paper was really wet. I then painted the darks in the head with the same three colors, putting more red and yellow around the eyes.

After moving to the white fur, I decided to bring in a fourth color; Manganese blue, to capture the shadows in the white fur. I first put in some tea strength Pyrrol Red around the nose and chin, then added my grayed down Manganese blue and caressed out the shadow areas, painting around the whites in the face edge, chin, chest, and paws. For the forward paw, I started with a dirty orange of mostly Gamboge, a little red and a little Indanthrone Blue for the colored fur, then used the same dirty blue mix as the paw transitioned to white fur in shadow. I added a tiny bit of the dirty orange in the crease between the far paw and chest. I built up the core shadows with thick paint, using some dry brushing.

For the forward quilt, I used Manganese and Gamboge at tea-strength to paint the overall shape, then added the Indanthrone Blue for the shadow areas. While the quilt was really wet, I used the Indanthrone Blue to hint at some of the stitching patterns.

I removed the masking and cleaned up some of the white shapes. A quick little cutie pie painting. And she sold almost immediately. Kitties make me smile.

Next up will be my final furry friend of the February Challenge. It’s a good thing we have an extra day in February this year, or I would be one short!

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Cactus Cat

“Cactus Cat”

Painting #12 for my 14×28 Furry Friends of February challenge. “Cactus Cat” is 7.5″x11″ on 140lb Arches cold press watercolor paper. Click on the image for a larger view in a new browser tab.

I have attempted to paint from this same reference photo two or three times previously. This is the first time I like the outcome. I feel as if I have captured the moment in a pleasing but not too sickeningly sweet way… Maybe it is still too sweet, but.. ?

I used Indanthrone Blue, Quinacridone Rose, Manganese Blue Hue, and New Gamboge (all by Daniel Smith). I did mask off some highlights before painting, using my small diamond-shaped palette knife with Pebeo Drawing Gum. I masked the whiskers catching the light and some highlights on the flowers and leaves. I also masked the highlights in the eyes and on the ear.

After the masking dried, I wet the paper front and back and let it soak a bit. When ready to paint, I dried off the back, but left the painting surface really wet, except around the eyes which I dabbed off with a paper towel. I started with the leaves and flowers on the left, with all the colors at medium-strength.

I painted the cat’s face first with Indanthrone Blue only (leaving the eye shapes white), letting the paint bleed out to the edge at the back of the head. I mixed the blue and Quin Red in a mixing area to creamy-strength, then caressed in the dark purple on top of the Indanthrone. I then added some yellow to the purple to neutralize the dark. Keeping it really strong, I caressed in the darkest darks, leaving the blue and violet to show in the slightly lighter areas of black fur.  I carved around the flowers with the dark mix as well. The masked edges helped to keep the shapes of the cactus foliage and flowers.

I painted the shelf with New Gamboge, then added some red and blue to make a nice gold. I used the gold mixture to indicate the cast shadows under the cat, on and below the shelf. I added blue to the gold mix for the curtains to the right of the cat. I tried to keep some whites but minimized my strokes to keep the curtains really loose. I painted the far wall (right side of the composition) with the same dirty gold.

I used the gold for the first layer of the eyes. I worked some details on the plants while the eyes dried off. I used the Manganese Blue and Gamboge for the greens on the cactus (The Indanthrone was too dark and warm). Then I painted the highlights on the cat with the same Manganese, so it would not be isolated. After the gold eyes were dry (ish), I add the dark pupils then softened them with some red-gold and blended that out into the gold base. Remember, I had masked the highlights, so I did not have to be too careful.

The cat is a little bit crossed eyes, so I wanted to capture that. Did you know that a Seal Point Siamese is genetically a black cat? I have often found Siamese Cats to be a bit cross-eyed as well. Apparently, black cats also tend to be quite smart. We’ve certainly found that to be the case with our two black feline beasties. I wonder if our two have Siamese blood?

Well, that’s painting #12 of 14 done. Two more to go. My next posts will describe paintings #13 (already done), and #14. I’ve picked out the source photo for #14, but it still needs painting. What will it be a cat or a dog? Stayed tuned…

Speaking of… I hope you will consider subscribing to this blog. See sign up form in the blog sidebar or just below. I recently had to change my subscription method (long boring story as to why). If you had already subscribed using the previous “FeedBurner” method, you are probably still receiving the email notifications? I have no way to know who might have subscribed before.

If you would not mind subscribing using the new method, it would be nice to know who is “out there” <smile>.

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Golden Winter Berries

My two-step demonstration painting for the Thursday watercolor class, “Golden Winter Berries.”  I gave the class a choice of three images, chosen because of the variety of edges we needed to depict, whether lost, soft or hard. Most chose the photo with the berries. 

We began with a 7.5″x5.5″ piece of Arches140 lb cold press paper taped to a piece of gatorboard.

I wet the surface completely. While the water soaked in a bit, I prepared my colors. We used New Gamboge, Pyrrol Red (both by Daniel Smith), and Ultramarine Light (Holbein).

I created a pile of medium-strength golden yellow by using mostly Gamboge, a little red and a little blue.

I mixed another pile of medium-strength brownish-red by using mostly red, a little yellow and a little blue.

Finally, I mixed up a pile of just Ultramarine blue.

I re-wet the paper, then dropped in all three colors, leaving some areas white, but letting the paint swim together to leave a lost edge.

After drying off that layer, I moved all three colors to the mixing area, this time in thick strengths. I wiped the brush through the three pigments and painted the branches using calligraphy strokes. I painted the berries, with two short “C-strokes” reflecting each other, to create a berry with a highlight. I then added some dark shadows, especially between the berries.

I used my rigger brush to sign my painting. I decided I liked the branches growing up, rather than hanging down. I then used the rigger to add more “twiggy” branches, and few outline strokes around some of the berries, using all three colors.

The painting took about 25 minutes (It has taken me longer to prepare this blog post  <smile>).

Today, I have two more days left in February, but I have three more paintings to complete my goal. Which means, I must paint at least TWO furry critters today! Stay tuned…

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Brusho® is Back!

Thanks!!!

Exciting news! I have been asked to exhibit my art in the Western Nevada College art gallery from April 1st – May 15th, 2020, where I teach art as an adjunct faculty member.

In thinking about what I would want to exhibit, I have looked around my studio and home for large pieces that would “hang together” well for a show, whether old or new.

Rhapsody in Spring

My husband’s favorite piece of my artwork is “Rhapsody in Spring” (orange poppies) which I painted in 2013, along with three other full-sheet-sized (22″x30″) paintings using the same medium, Brusho®. The other three paintings in the series sold. I recently just reframed “Rhapsody in Spring” with a blue metallic frame, and she looks fabulous! I must say. I would really like to show her off in this exhibit. But… right now she is one-of-a-kind in my collection of Colleen Reynolds original works.

Then a Facebook memory showed up featuring some little calligraphy cards I painted in 2016 using Brusho. See “Tiger Lilies” and “Dancing Irises”. Cute or what? And a Facebook friend suggested he’d sure like a “lick mail” letter with one of those designs.

Long story short, the “forces” are telling me to play with Brusho® again, right?

I have fiddled with them a bit over the last few years, but I have not embarked on any serious artwork with them for over five years.

That was a big lead-in to explain why I have diverted from my Furry Friends challenge for the last two days. I have been re-discovering my Brusho® Pots.

Brusho® is a watercolour pigment made in England. All the colors are extremely intense (bright). Each color comes in a pot of pigment that has been crystallized into a fine powder. When the crystals are sprinkled on to paper and water is added, the pigment explodes into wonderful random bursts of color, looking much like fireworks. It is a very exciting medium to work with.

It does have its challenges though. 1) The pigment stains the paper almost immediately, so I have to work fast to achieve a variety of edges. 2) It also goes really dark (low value) really fast if I use too much pigment. And, 3) as I mentioned, all the pigments are extremely intense (bright), which means they all compete for attention on the page.

To combat the intensity and value issues, I like to dissolve and dilute the crystals with water and paint with them as I would regular watercolor.

 

But practice is needed. I painted the little original card  “Thanks!!!” (see first image above) as a warm-up. I did send it off to that hinting friend. I have also begun another Full Sheet painting so “Rhapsody in Spring” may have at least one partner at the College Gallery show in April. It needs to be painted and framed in less than a month. Yikes! Will I make it?

Or maybe I will just not hang any Big Brusho paintings in the upcoming exhibit?

 

 

These are the other three (sold) large Brusho® paintings in the “Big Brusho” Series from 2013-15. Click on the images to see larger views in new browser tabs.

Rhapsody in Summer

Rhapsody in Fall

Rhapsody in Blue

Jonesy Boy Too

“Jonesy Boy Too” – Final

Painting #11 for my Furry Friends of February Challenge. “Jonesy Too” is a 5.5″x7.5″ transparent watercolor on 140lb Arches cold press. Click on the images for larger views in new browser tabs.

“Jonesy Boy Too” – Stage 1

“Jonesy Too” is a demonstration painting for my community education Silver Watercolor Class with Truckee Meadows Community College. This was the final painting demo of our 4-week class, which met on four Saturdays this month.

I used my wet-to-dry method, which meant saturating the paper, mixing up my three pigments, then drying back the paper to damp where I wanted to hold an edge. See stage 1 for a view of where the demo ended in class.

I used Pyrrol Red, Phthalo Blue (GS) and New Gamboge (all by Daniel Smith) throughout the painting. We first called out the outline of the kitty by painting the background around him, letting the colors blend and mix on the paper.

We then used the same three colors to paint the biggest shadow side of the interior kitty. After the first value layer had dried back some, we worked some mid-level darks, concentrating on the cat’s features. After the class was completely frustrated, I went around and helped students individually with their paintings. I did not remember to take photos of some of their efforts, but they did really well, I thought.

“Jonesy Boy Too” Stage 2

After returning to my studio, I added the final dark tones, working slowly and deliberately which my big pointy brush. I really just concentrated on shadow and light. After Stage 2 (see image), I thought I was done. After seeing the image on my computer, though, I realized the shadows around the mouth were wrong, making the kitty look almost cartoonish. So I fiddled with it some more; lifting off some pigment, and adding more.

I used a sharp snap knife to scratch back the whiskers and highlights on the fur and in the eyes.

I have painted another version from this same source photo. See earlier blog post for “Light Catcher” (Click link)

Which version do you prefer? This painting is half the size of the previous one.

The painting is for sale. $95 plus $7 shipping to destinations in the continental U.S. It will be delivered unframed in a white mat with a black core, outside dimensions to fit a standard size 8″x10″ frame.