Category Archives: Watercolor Birds

Curious Finch

“Curious Finch”

I may be back online with this bloggin’ thing?

Where were we? Oh yes, painting birds for the Big Bird March challenge, that went in to April because of the covid-19 worldwide catastrophe.

This is painting #11 (15 was the goal), “Curious Finch” is 11″x7.5″ on Arches 140 lb cold press watercolor paper, painted wet-in-wet. I magically collaged (in my mind) several photos of one little finch who varied his pose for me on a fence for a whole 30 seconds (maybe more)? The early morning light just made his little yellow belly glow. At least I think he is a male? The little birds move so fast. When they are out of the sun, they are somewhat green-ish in tone. Click on images for a larger view in new browser tabs.

I really cannot remember what pigments I used for sure. I think three different yellows, Hansa Yellow Light & Medium (cool & warmer), plus New Gamboge (warm). I probably used Ultramarine Light by Holbein mixed with Pyrrol Scarlet and Transparent Pyrrol Orange (Daniel Smith) to make the brown tones? But I may have used Phthalo Blue instead of Ultramarine. I will check the video clip. Maybe I will post a Youtube preview of the video soon too?

In other news, after much time, money, and fussing…it appears my MacBook laptop and blog are operational again. I am still working on getting the upgrade to the failed video capture device working (No audio! Why? Why? Why?). I also still need to sort out which streaming application and virtual meeting platform I will use to deliver my online watercolor classes for June and beyond.

AND so I can GO LIVE on my Facebook business page for the next Virtual Wine Walk, scheduled for Saturday, June 6th, 1-4pm. Save the date/time!

Zentangle Mandalas

With all this computer fiddling, I have had no time to paint. I do have lots of projects waiting in the wings of my mind; more birds (I have become quite the birdwatcher) and farm animals. It is a good thing my friend Dee has been inspiring me to Zentangle. So soothing… and a little bit of painting too. You can see some mandala tiles I have tangled and painted.

“Curious Finch” is for sale, with mat $150 or without $99. Specify which “variant” you prefer during checkout on my Sellfy product site. Click the green Buy now button for a longer description. 

 

Baby Ducks

Painting #10 of my Big Bird March (continuing in to April) Challenge, “Baby Ducks.”

This painting is based on some photos I took in my Utah days at Fairmont park in Salt Lake City. Momma had a lot more children, but I focused on just these three. The painting is on Arches 140lb cold press, 7.5″x11″ (or 1/8 of a full sheet). Click on images to see a larger view in a new browser tab.

I drew the value study while communing with my kitties the night before. I like to do the drawing the same size as the painting, so I can trace up my drawing outlines to the watercolor paper. I feel I do better on the painting when I have done a drawing beforehand. It helps me to know my subject when I’m in the middle of flowing paper.

This time, I painted while hanging with my Little on Google Hangouts, so it may be a “little” incomplete. Mainly I need to retrieve a highlight in Momma’s eye, so she doesn’t look blind.

Stay tuned for a video preview and other updates. I am typing this now to to test my blog software capabilities, which has been acting “fussy” – grrr.

Two Americas

Two Americas

Painting number nine in my Big Bird march (but continuing in April) challenge. This is my “Two Americas” painting, collaged from a selection of photos I took back in my Utah days at both Eagle Bay and the Tracy Aviary. The eagles in my source photo both had broken wings. I tried to minimize the visual damage to their wings, and I put them in a natural setting rather than the cage in an aviary.

This is painted on 140lb Arches cold press sized to 7.5″x11″, or one eighth of a full sheet of watercolor paper. Click on the image to see a larger view in a new browser tab.

I think the imagery is a visual commentary on the state of the not-so-united-state of America at the moment. I will let the title speak for itself, and you can interpret it your own way.

As with my previous post, rather than give you a long, written explanation of the painting process, I will include an accelerated video of selected clips in the painting process.

I used just five pigments throughout the painting, listed here in order of their appearance in the video. Manganese Blue Hue by Daniel Smith, Ultramarine Light by Holbein, Quinacridone Rose, Raw Sienna Light, and Transparent Pyrrol Orange; the last three colors also by Daniel Smith.

Enjoy the video of the painting process. There are few words, just moving pictures. Moving pictures should be worth lots of words, right?

The painting is for sale via my Sellfy Shop https://sellfy.com/crme-exploring-watercolor. You can pay what you want! I just ask that you pay the cost for me to ship it to you. Click on the green Buy Now button below for more details.

Bachelor Party

“Bachelor Party”

Painting #8 in my Big Bird March (but continuing in April) challenge. This is my “Bachelor Party” painting, collaged from a selection of photos of some house sparrows who hang outside my kitchen window. The female sparrows visit also, but they are more camera shy. I think the males may actually consider me a threat when they “pose” and glare at me through the window. This is a 7.5″x11″ watercolor painting on 140lb Arches cold press. Click on each image to see a larger view in a new browser tab.

“Bachelor Party” Drawing

I have skipped blogging about a couple of bird paintings. The paintings are nothing I want to brag about. I have quit counting the number of total birds, since this one alone means 10 separate birds!

Rather than give you a long written explanation of the painting process, I will just include an accelerated video of selected clips in the painting process. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, how many words is a video worth, I wonder?

Anyway, I used just four pigments throughout the painting; in order of their appearance in the video, Pyrrol Transparent Orange, New Gamboge (both by Daniel Smith), Ultramarine Light (Holbein), and Quinacridone Rose (Also by Daniel Smith).

I quite like the somewhat abstract nature of the painting and drawing. These guys will probably end up on a note card some day, or as a packet of bird cards. My usual rule is I don’t make prints of paintings unless I no longer have access to the original painting. So I may wait to see if this little guy sells? Or I may make a coronavirus exception to the rule? I’m not sure yet.

Enjoy the video of the painting process. There are no words, just moving pictures (worth thousands and thousands of words).

If you are interested in purchasing this painting, it is available via my Self Shop https://Self.com/CRME-Exploring-Watercolor. For details, you can click the convenient button below.

As always, I hope you will consider subscribing to this GREAT blog. See sign up option to the right (on a computer), or below (on a personal device). Thanks for stopping by.

Flamingos

Flamingos

Continuing with my Big Bird March Challenge…This is the 6th painting (but 9th & 10th in terms of bird numbers). The painting is 7.5″x11″ on Arches 140lb cold press. Click on images for larger views in new browser tabs.

I took a break from painting the bird challenge to teach a last workshop before the great economic shutdown; then took another three weeks or so, to create seven video tutorials.

Some time in the video editing immersion period, I did this quick direct painting of these flamingos. I used Pyroll Scarlet, Manganese blue, Phthalo blue, and Raw Sienna Light; all by Daniel Smith.

The painting was quite a challenge. I was distracted (and probably frustrated) with video editing. I couldn’t seem to achieve the effect I wanted, when I wanted it. In the end, I pulled out the palette knife (a tip from a Bev Jozwiak workshop) and started moving the paint around in the bird feathers, background, and water. I put the painting away in my take-home bag and went back to video editing.

I pulled it out again to show the home critics, and I thought, “Hmmm, tha’s not so bad!” hahaha. Especially for going in without any drawing to start. One home critic said, “Ooh, cool. Flamingos.”

This experience did make me realize that I much prefer to begin with a drawing. I really like the drawing process. It helps me to understand my subject and allows me to paint with more abandon.

In an effort to promote my new Sellfy Product Platform, I’m offering this painting for whatever price you want to pay. Well, sort of… I’m starting the pricing at $10, just to cover the shipping and handling.

My Sellfy Shop is called CRME Exploring Watercolor. Click the link or the image to go to the site. Thank you in advance.

“Flamingos” – Pay what you want (over shipping charges).

All video downloads in my Sellfy Shop are 20% off through April 30th. Use the code PREMIER during checkout.

Stay tuned for the next Big Bird March blog post, featuring a redheaded tweeter.

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“Western Tanagers”

“Western Tanagers”

Birds 6, 7, and 8 for my 15×30 Big Bird March (I did not blog about bird #5 as I did not like it). Is it fair to count three birds in one painting as three? My challenge, my rules, right? Ha! I have a workshop to teach and host this weekend, so I need to surge ahead of schedule. Click on the image to see a larger view in your browser. I painted on 140lb Saunders Waterford cold press paper.

We love seeing these beautiful Western Tanagers flashing past us in the Spring and Summer months. We managed to catch some photos of them in some evergreens. I often cannot distinguish the Tanager from the Oriole at a distance, the female especially. When we returned home, we compared the photos against “The Bird Book” and “The Google.” These guys (and gal) were definitely Western Tanagers. Real birders probably would not need to consult The Google?

I combined four photos to come up with the composition; one of the blurry tanager in the background, two for the female, and one for the main male in the foreground.

I painted wet-into-wet, using Pyrrol Scarlet, Hansa Yellow Medium, Phthalo Blue (GS) and Quinacridone Rose (all by Daniel Smith). I’m going to let the Youtube video of the painting stages suffice for the process description this time.

The painting is 7.5″x11″ in a custom white mat with a black core to fit a standard 11″x14″ frame opening. Shipping $7 (if the painting does not need to be shipped, the shipping charge will be refunded). $185

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.

Thank you for reading about my painting endeavors. I hope you will consider subscribing to this blog (if you haven’t already). See the easy form below.

“Goldfinch Dinner” Stage 1

Update! I removed the white spike below the beak.

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By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: CRM Endeavors Exploring Watercolor, 400 W. King St, Carson City, NV, 89703, https://colleenreynolds.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact