Grey and Yellow Cockatiel

 

This week I painted a bird.  It’s a grey and yellow cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus).  It’s a popular pet which is native to Australia.

I began with a sketch…

 

Then I gave it a blotchy background and laid down a basic lemon wash on the bird…

 

Then I put in all of the basic large scale colours and tones as a basis for the detail I was planning next…

 

Finally I got to the details and dived right in.  Once I was most of the way there with the finer work I could see how my background didn’t give the painting enough contrast so I darkened the whole thing right down.  Lastly, I finished off the edges.

Here’s the final painting…

 

 

I really enjoyed painting the eye, beak and other facial features of this little bird.  I used more gouache techniques on these parts and more watercolour on the plummage.  The feathers were the most difficult part, especially the feathers on the top of the head.  This is the weakest part of the painting in my opinion.  The only reference I had for the head feathers was a bit too small to use effectively.  However, it’s something I only realised with hindsight!

 

PS:  I’m having some issues with my health at the moment so I apologise if I’m a little late getting back to anyone.  Also, this is the last of my summer holiday paintings and I’ve not been able to paint for a while so I might not be able to put a post up next week but I will get back to it as soon as I am able.

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Two River Scenes

 

 

At the end of April I had a car accident.  My car was written off and I got some minor injuries but no broken bones.  Anyway, I had some increased pain from the accident (and from the physio that I needed because of it) for a few months.  Because of that I haven’t been able to go fishing at all this year.  I’ve been really missing it. So one day during the summer holidays I drove down to a car park which is right next to our local river and just sat there for a while taking it in.  You can actually smell the water and, annoyingly, see fish turning over in the river just under a tree I normally cast into!!  When I got back I made a really quick watercolour sketch – not really capturing the details of the scene – but the feeling of the place, the living, moving river.

Here’s the picture…

 

Because it was such a quick sketch, with no reference other than my memory, it stayed quite loose.  I love it when other painters do this but I find it hard to like my own work when I use this approach.  It just looks scruffy to me.  🙂 It does work though, feeling-wise.

Later the same evening I was playing with my tablet and found a good little sketching program (Autodesk Sketchbook).  I played around with this and ended up making another river scene in a digital way.  I imported the basic scene into photoshop for finishing the next day.  Here’s the final image…

 

 

I like the textures in this one.  It reminds me less of my time in the car park next to the river though, and more of John Wyndham’s excellent book The Day of the Triffids!

The Dawn Wall

 

This is a painting I’ve been working on for a while.  It’s quite large (A3) and went through a lot of iterations before it was finally complete.

I first came across this particular rockface while watching some climbing videos.  The first was about a couple of climbers climbing a particular route on the rock face El Capitan in the US.  The section they climbed is called “The Dawn Wall”.  Then I watched the amazing Alex Honnold, in another video, climb the whole thing, free solo.  It was extraordinary!  My hands kept breaking out into a sweat just watching that chap.  Later the same week I was looking at some more beautiful woodblock prints from Japan.  I looked through a lot of Yoshida’s work and came across this beautiful print he made of El Capitan…

By Horoshi Yoshida, 1925

It just blew my mind.  If I were rich I would attempt to get an original copy of this.  I find it really beautiful.  Having seen this I made a couple of sketches of El Cap using photo reference…

 

I liked the feel of this sketch, so rather than sketching it again I decided to enlarge and transfer the sketch onto my watercolour paper.

  • First I scanned in my image and then printed it out 141% larger so it would fit to A3 paper.  Because my printer will only do A4 I printed 2 sections and then joined them like this…

  • Next I used a nice dark pencil to cover the back of the paper with graphite…

 

  • Then I got my Arches paper and laid the sketch over the paper and drew over my lines.  This marked the watercolour paper very lightly with my sketch…

 

Then I began to paint.  I began with a watercolour sky…

 

Then I blocked in some of the main light and dark areas on the rock face…

I built this up until I had a basic underpainting…

Then I began to layer on my gouache.  I thought the contrast between a hazy watercolour sky and the clear and definite strokes of gouache would make the rock seem harder.

After the first wash with gouache the painting looked like this…

 

Then I did the bulk of the actual painting – all the medium level tones

and colours…

 

Then I was ready for my favourite bit – the details.  Here’s the final painting…

 

 

Quakers

I have been associated with the Quakers in the UK on and off since I was in my early 20’s. I went back to Meeting for Worship (which is what Quakers call their Sunday gathering) today for the first time in a year. I have wanted to go back for a long time but my health has meant that I needed to concentrate on family and work only so that I could make sure I did those two things well rather than more things badly. Thankfully now my GP has made a change to my pain medication I’m able to do more again.

It was so lovely today to sit in silence with them – it was like coming home. I don’t have to be anything except myself there. I don’t have to perform or be on my best behaviour. There’s no singing or standing up or sitting down, no reciting of prayers or bread or wine. Nothing is really done and yet everything is accomplished. It reminds me quite strongly of Lao Tzu.

One of the long time members at our Meeting left to go to a retirement home about this time last year. So I wanted to paint her a picture of our Meeting for Worship to remember us by. I began by sketching during our Meeting one Sunday last year. I still have the sketches that I made but I haven’t asked anyone for persmission to put their portrait up here so I’m not going to do that. For the final painting I decided to paint the people in the meeting in outline only and to colour them according to how I see the Quaker Testimonies (which are concepts that are important to Quakers – Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship). Community was not done as a colour but was intrinsic in the image of a group of people sitting together. I also added a white line around each person to speak to the Quaker idea of the Light. It was done in a mixture of watercolour and gouache.

Anyway, here’s the final painting…