Blue Heron cont’d….

I spent all of today working on some vintage Christmas cards in CP as well as closing in on the finish line for the Blue Heron.  I had decided to add water in the lower background and I’m pleased with how it’s turning out.  I can see already that I will be doing some adjusting to the values here and there but overall I think it’s all on track.

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Blue Heron cont’d….

Today was a big day, in more ways than one.  I decided it was a good day to lift my canna lilies from the ground to prep them for their winter sleep.  I planted six rhizomes early summer this year and today I dug up close to fifty.  Some of them were the size of softballs.  They must have really liked their location and the soil.  Problem is now I have to store them all but how to store that many is beyond me.  Guess I’ll have to call the greenhouse to get the best advice.

Anyway, I also completed the Blue Heron today.  All those feathers!!!  It was challenging but I “got er done”!  I will probably do a little tweaking once I have the water done but will see.  I just started on the water background and I’m thinking I will only do a section of water and leave the rest to the imagination but I can always change my mind.  For the water I started out with a light layer of Prisma Periwinkle, following that using FC Indigo Blue to start mapping in the dark shadows.  I will purposely omit the light areas leaving the periwinkle to show me where my highlights will be.  I also have to finish the grasses in the bottom left-hand corner.

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Blue Heron cont’d…..

Yesterday I was teaching a workshop, part of a 6-week series and tomorrow I am running a second session so I decided today would be a good day to stay in my studio and make some progress on the heron.  Continuing on with the feathers I’m working my way up again using all the warm and cool grays as well as a few of the Prisma French grays.  It’s like looking at an optical illusion when you look at your reference image and find your spot and then move to your work surface to find your place there.  Before long your eyes become quite tired and you need to take a break.  Hence the slow meticulous process for doing feathers.  I do so love a challenge though.

 

Blue Heron cont’d….

Another 4 hours so far today working on the back leg and a few more feathers.  Again using all values in both the warm and cool grays, dark sepia and a few miscellaneous reddish browns.  For the blue in the feathers I wanted to display more blue than the heron actually shows, after all it is a blue heron, so I under painted the bluest areas of the feathers with Prisma Sky Blue Light and then my warm and cool grays over top and then a little more of the blue.  I will probably adjust the saturation a little more once all the feathers are complete.  I also shot today’s piece in raw file which I’ve never done before to achieve the most data and truer colours although the colours do look a little paler than the actual piece and the blue hardly shows up here.  Shooting in raw format is totally new for me so I’ll have to read up on it a lot more.  Aside from finishing the grass and the rest of the bird I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether I should add a background or not.  I’m leaning towards water but that’s another lot of hours.

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Blue Heron cont’d……

I put in at least 5 hours today and it doesn’t seem like I got a lot accomplished but I really did.  Working such small areas at a time on feathers is very time-consuming but for the sake of realism, it’s the nature of the beast.  If you take your eyes off your reference image for an instant you have to refocus as to where you were and sometimes do this a number of times before you put pencil to paper.  The thing I really love about doing the heron is that I’m really improving my value judgement skills because the majority of the bird consists of all the grey values in both warm and cool tones.  Coloured pencil really helps you become not only able to evaluate colours and values better but you become a better drawer too(I hate that word – it’s hard to say).  There is a bluish colour cast on the image but that’s just the photography.  The actual picture is a lot warmer.  Here’s today’s progress!

Blue Heron cont’d…..

Put in a few more hours today and finished the front leg.  I decided to start working on the feathers but it is so easy to get lost in all the minute changes of value and colour, not to mention all the teeny feathers, that I am pretty much working a 1/2 inch square of area at a time laying in lightly the warm and cool grays.  I will go back in numerous times to develop the depth of value necessary but I am basically colour mapping these areas now so I won’t get lost.  I do this all free-hand constantly referring to my reference photo as it really allows me to focus on negative spaces which is a tremendous tool for developing your drawing skills.  By working on the negative spaces which are often simpler because we don’t try then to draw a specific item but focus rather on shapes, that in the end the true image emerges and will often find that it is quite accurate.  In the top area of the feathers I am also randomly omitting small slivers of light spots where the light catches the feathers before they develop into full feathers.  I will go in later and do some softening and clean up to naturalize them to that area.

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Blue Heron cont’d…..

I had hoped to spend the whole day on this but I was not feeling well so after a long hot bath I ventured into my studio to get maybe another hour’s worth in.

Blue Heron cont’d…..

Another hour or so today on the Blue Heron.  The grass at the feet of the Heron was driving me crazy so I decided to leave it alone for a bit and start work on the head.  I love the colours that this piece seems to demand.  Muted shades of mocha and blue grays.  I haven’t decided yet if I will leave the background untouched or whether or not I will add in some water but I have it in my head so if I go that route it won’t be a blind last minute decision.  I was able to photograph the piece today with natural light which if you saw the last image, makes quite a difference in the colours.

Blue Heron_4

Blue Heron cont’d….

So our favorite bird, the Blue Heron is beginning to take some shape.  I’ve been working the past two days on the rocks and grassy area beneath the bird’s feet.  Creating this kind of texture and make it look realistic is time-consuming and requires the use of a very sharp pencil.  It’s really about working mostly with negative spaces to create all the twigs and branches and then going in darker in areas for shadows or change of hue.  Keeping my reference image close by, my eye constantly refers back to it while I also continue to lean back to get an overall view to ensure that all my negative spaces look random and in all directions.  It’s also important to ensure that when I create a line representing a twig that I allow the spaces to match it on both side of another twig so they appear grounded and not growing out of mid-air.  Very tricky and is an advanced skill using coloured pencils.  Colour mapping at first enables me to see what direction I want to go in and to keep me on track.  Hopefully by the time I post again I will have this area completed and the sun will shine so I can get a decent outdoor photo of it.  Indoor lighting tends to give that blue-green tinge to the paper and to correct it causes the quality to fall somewhat and the colours to look off.

 

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Brand new project….Blue Heron 16 x 20

After completing the piece on the three horses some time ago, I really wanted to try another large piece so I’ve started one today.  It will actually be larger than 16 x 20 and it’s very challenging.  When Chris and I were in Florida a couple of years ago we stayed in a condo right on the Manatee river and every day we had the opportunity to see and photograph a lot of Blue Herons.  They are so beautiful!  As it turns out we have them here in Sandy Hook too but this particular shot has been calling to me since our stay in Palmetto, FL.  This piece while very much a work in progress is dedicated to all of our friends we made while spending the winter at Riviera Dunes and we hope you have survived the Hurricane without too much heartache.

 

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