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.

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Blue Heron cont’d….

Finally got around to making some decisions and serious application to the Heron.  I couldn’t decide what seemed to be not quite right about it in my mind but I decided that I needed to close off both sides but I didn’t want to have to add a whole lot more grasses and water to keep it at the 16 x 20 size so I opted to make it 13.5 x 15.5 and add in only enough of the elements to fill that size edge to edge.  Using artistic license I added some more rocks and some bull rushes as well.  I  need to finish out the grass in the foreground and the water at the right edge, then I think after a few tweaks here and there, I’ll be able to put this one to bed.

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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…..

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.

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Tulip Trio….

Taking a break from the Masquerade theme and working on a few smaller pieces.  This one, Tulip Trio, is an 8 x 10 on black Artagain paper.  I’d forgotten why I haven’t used this paper in a while as there isn’t much tooth to it, so it’s very difficult to get a bright white base.  However, I really love the subtle texture that it provides.  Using white transfer paper I got my subject down and worked on the one flower today.  Black paper can be very challenging as you have to get your brain thinking almost in reverse and then building up your values with white or cream first, leaving the black of the paper for the darkest values.  Believe it or not, I’ve used a total of 22 colors already!!Tulip Trio_1

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