A Poppy card

My mum loves poppies. She even grows large ornamental ones in her garden. So for her birthday I made her a card with a poppy on it. I tried to make the background very loose which is not something I am good at.

I didn’t manage to take any process shots of this painting. I think I had to concentrate so hard to get the background to work that it just went out of my mind! Oops!

Once I’d finished the painting I trimmed it neatly with my rotary trimmer and then mounted it on a card. I actually use doublesided carpet tape to mount heavy paper like this. It works really well.

Here’s a picture of the card…

And here is the final painting…

❤️ Happy Birthday Mum!!!! ❤️

Emperor Penguins in Watercolour

This week I painted a family of Emperor Penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) in Watercolour. I wanted each adult to reflect the two imperatives of penguin parents whilst bringing up a baby – to protect the chick and to feed themseves (and the chick). So I drew one looking down at the penguin and the other looking off towards the sea ready to take their turn to fish.

Here is my very basic sketch (apologies I drew this very lightly and it is a bit hard to see)…

And here is the basic drawing I made from my sketch…

My next task was to plan my colours. I did this by pulling my sketch into my android tablet, marking off some basic flat areas, putting in some colour and then playing around with the colour until I was happy. Here’s an animated gif (if I’ve done this correctly) of the process I went through to plan my colour…

Once I was decided on my colour choices I was just a quick and happy painting session away from a finished picture. It took a while for me to get to it though since I was unwell for a few days again.

I did have a lot of fun using some dry brush techniques to make my baby penguin suitably fluffy. I also used a light yellow ocre/grey to add some shadows which “pushed” the baby into his parent’s feathers so the viewer gets the feeling of him being loved and cared for by his mum and dad.

Here’s my finished watercolour…

Line and Wash – Badger Cub

This week’s painting was done using the line and wash technique. It was of a cute little badger cub, transfixed by a bumble bee! Being a true Hufflepuff, I love badgers! They’re a very grounded animal. I just love their dirt snuffling ways!

I’m afraid I had a difficult week with my health, so this was quite a quick little sketch. I began in pencil then added some ink outlines and then inked all of his fur, like this…

Once the inks were completed I washed over my picture with watercolours to add a little more depth. Here’s the final painting…

Line and Wash Shoebill

This week I painted a picture of a really odd-looking bird. It’s called a Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex), because, unsurprisingly, it’s bill looks a bit like a shoe. I think it looks more like a clog. I wonder if Clogbeak will catch on? 😊

I used the Line and Wash method of painting for this picture. Basically it is a mixture of an inked line drawing painted over with watercolours. (Although I have seen people paint watercolour pictures and then add the ink lines later which is interesting.)

Here is a beautiful photograph of one of these birds. I absolutely love the feather definition the photographer has picked up on the back of the bird. The photo is by Hans Hillewaert.

© Hans Hillewaert Licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0

Here are some process photos of the drawing process…

Pencils
Inks Part 1
Inks Part 2

Here is my ink drawing…

Once my ink drawing was complete I then set about painting. I began with a pale yellow wash over the background area. While the wash was still wet I dropped into it some Cadmium yellow deep (which is a gorgeous colour). I also played around with removing some of the colour in places with a paper towel so I could have a nice textured background.

Next I painted all of the bird apart from his eyes and bill with a very light Paynes Grey with a little French Ultramarine to make it a little more blue. I gradually built up my depth of colour and depth of tone in the darker areas.

Once that was done I painted his eyes and then his amazing clog-like bill. I finished off using some titanium white with a really small rigger brush to put in some highlighted feathers and some eye-shine.

Here is my final painting…

I think they’re really funny birds. As well as having a significant bite, they also clatter their beak when greeting a friend and bow and shake their head to show affection!

Here’s a YouTube video which shows a female Shoebill clattering her beak and greeting her favourite keeper with bows and head shakes. It’s a lovely video! (The clattering starts at about 1 minute 20 seconds and the bowing and head shaking happens shortly afterwards.)

Disgustingly, they also defecate on their own legs to cool down when they’re too hot. I don’t know if I would ever be hot enough to do that! They are also, very sadly, classed as a vulnerable as a species with only 5000 to 8000 left in the wild. This is partly due to the black market for their bodies (despite them being a protected species on CITES) and partly due to habitat destruction in their central African home due to farming and burning of the land.

A Hermit Crab in Watercolour

Over the last couple of weeks I have painted a cheerful little guy called Dardanus lagopodes, or the Hairy Red Hermit Crab. I used Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolours on A3 Arches Hot Pressed Paper.

Here are my process photos…

And here is the final image…

I think he looks like a Geoffrey!

Octopus Dream #5 – The Bubble Fountain

This is the last in my series of “Octopus Dreams” posts.

One of the things I love about octopuses is their curiosity and playfullness. I saw a video online of an octopus playing in a bubble stream in his tank. It was wonderful! Unfortunately it looks like the video has been taken down so I can’t show it to you. Instead here’s a video from a different channel, Octolab TV which is quite similar where an octopus is playing in the output from a water pump. I love the way he gets surprised by the feel of it but keeps going back because he’s interested. I think he’s having fun!

In my painting this week I wanted to capture an octopus playing in some bubbles.

I started off with a drawing…

Then I painted the background with a basic blue/green/yellow wash in watercolour. When it was half dry I added salt to the damp paint. The salt sucked up any remaining fluid which removed some of the paint in a patchy sort of way. I used this effect to give the impression of smaller bubbles which were further away behind my lovely curious octopus.

Next I began to draw in my main octopus shape using Prismacolor pencils. I used three colours – a dark blue/green, a low saturation mid-green and a pale yellow/green (which looked yellow because of the green around it!)…

Once I had the basic shape I then used a bright yellow and a white to push the lighter surfaces and a black Prismacolor, along with a 4B Mars lumagraph pencil to deepen the darker areas. I blended these in with a blending stump and then went on to add my bubbles. Once this was finished I photographed my finished art and adjusted my levels in Photoshop.

Here is the finished picture…

Next week – some new adventures!!!

🙂

Whale Song

I thought we’d have a break from octopuses this week with a watercolour painting of a beautiful humpback whale swimming with a diver.

I used Arches hot-pressed watercolour paper this time. It’s odd but, although I really find Arches paper great to use for watercolour because it takes a wash so beautifully, I keep avoiding using it because it’s so expensive. I just feel I have to save it. Then when I do use it, I feel a sense of pressure not to waste it which isn’t overly helpful. I think this is quite a common thing though. I’m going to deal with it by just using the paper until it feels more normal.

So, I began my whale painting with a pencil sketch…

Next I did the big washes – starting from the background and working forwards…

After that I worked on the details – the diver, the whale’s eye and other features and I worked on bringing the whale shape to life with some shadows. I also added a little more pencil in places to give a little more definition to some parts of the painting.

Once the painting was finished I photographed it and then corrected the levels in Photoshop. Here’s the finished painting…

I had a “whale” of a time with this one! LOL

😀

Octopus Dreams #3 – The second half of a larger line and wash painting

I have been experimenting for some time in my artwork, trying to find a way to tone ink drawings traditionally. This week I have toned an ink drawing of a Larger Pacific Striped Octopus with black watercolour. Initially I was thinking of either using charcoal or watercolour over my ink. It was really hard to make up my mind without trying it out, so on some scrap paper I had a quick go of both methods. Here are the results of my experiments…

(Charcoal)
(Watercolour)

I decided to go with the watercolour in the end. It took more time and was not removable like the charcoal, but I liked the level of control had with watercolour and the depth of colour I could generate.

I began with a few basic washes…

Then I added some mild shadows to the light coloured sand. To do this I put on a wash of clear water and then dropped in black watercolour at the top of each wet section and allowed it to “stretch out” naturally.

Once this was done I began the painstaking work of putting in the details. Because the original ink drawing was A3, this took quite some time, but it was very enjoyable.

Here is the final line and wash drawing…

Canada Goose in Watercolour

A while back my son and I went down to our local river for our Covid exercise period. He pushed me in my wheelchair along the tow path for a little way and then went off to have a walk while I sat and painted. There were loads of narrowboats waiting to get through the lock and one was just moored up a bit further down. It was wonderful because the guy inside was playing this gentle 1970’s folk/rock music. Normally I prefer silence and the sound of the river but somehow his choice of music felt just perfect for moment.

I’m afraid I didn’t take any process photos and I didn’t quite finish by the time we were ready to go home either. But I got the basic colours and shapes blocked in.

Here’s what it looked like when I got home…

And here is a photo of the goose in question…

He was with his lady by the looks of things and the pair of them were hanging out with a pair of swans who were quite definitely courting. I know swans are regarded as more beautiful but I just loved the look of the geese (despite their tendancy to chase me when I was young!)

A few days later I painted in all of the details and repainted his eye which looked wrong to me. Here’s the finished painting…

He was a very handsome chap!