Blue Heron cont’d….

This piece will drive me insane.  I really love a challenge but this one is taking forever.  Doesn’t help that I’ve been sick but spending too much time on the water in one go makes me cross-eyed!  So I work in small increments to get it done.  I think having the water there really gives the bird a sense of placement and it’s environment.


Blue Heron cont’d…..

This particular piece is taking a long time to complete as I decided to put in the water background and much like doing feathers your eyes can so easily get lost on where you are.  Achieving the balance of the waves is crucial to have it look realistic and yet still provide the role of support for the bird.  I’m using basically 8 colours.  FC – Payne’s Gray, Dark Sepia, Indigo Blue and Cold Gray VI.  In the Prismas, I’m using Sky Blue Light Periwinkle, Slate Gray and Green Ochre for the bits of weed floating on the surface.  I’m completing only about an inch a day as my eyes and my patience are tested after completing that small amount of space.  I first sketch in with indigo or payne’s gray about an inch worth of shapes,  then I add periwinkle around the soft edges, putting in the sky light blue in the areas around the seaweed.  Then I start my layering process, building with all my colours the depth and density of the shadows till they look right.  Once I have done all the water as per usual, I will go into and blend a little more, darken some areas, add some more highlights where needed and in general just clean it up.  I used a number of colours of pan pastels to sort of map in the water before moving forward just to give myself an idea of where I want to go and to create a base of colour I can build on.  I still have to finish the lower left grasses and the rocks need some work as well.

Blue Heron_15

Blue Heron cont’d…..

Well, each day I get a little more completed and I’m almost there but sometimes all the finishing touches can take more time than you think.  I decided to add the reeds and water and a few more rocks but I’m still looking at it and thinking it needs something else and the water is not finished yet.  I’ll let it sit for a day or so and then look at it again to determine what that “else” is.  Shouldn’t be long before it’s done though.  The colour is off but that will be fixed.


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.

Blue Heron_10

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.

Blue Heron_7

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

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.


Competitions are great for the ego….

While my computer was out of service, I received notice that two of my pieces received an Honorable Mention and a Special Merit Award in the “Animals” category through the Light, Space & Time Gallery so I was unable to post this till today.  There were 674 entries from over 20 countries around the world.  The two works chosen were “Cock a Doodle Dandy”/Honorable Mention and “Wood Stork”/Special Merit.  Entering competitions does not always pay out in terms of cash or product but the media representation as well as just the confirmation that your work is worthy and you’re on the right track is of immense value.

“Cock a Doodle Dandy” Coloured Pencil 11 x 14 on Bristol Vellum

“Woodstork” 16 x 20 Coloured Pencil


In addition, today I received notice from Anne Kulhberg’s CP magazine that they would also like to feature my piece “Cock a Doodle Dandy” in their magazine so it looks like it is definitely the Year of the Rooster.

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