Thursday, June 22, 2017










Prothonotary Warbler Part 2


First use paynes gray OR blue with sienna to paint the darkest crevices and places where the wood is shadowed or separated. Let this dry. Then use warm brown (can be burnt sienna with French ultra marine, or lunar earth, or ochre with blue in it) to glaze over the wood stumps. Before it dries use one or more of these texture techniques: sprinkle with salt; spatter with water drops; spatter with other colors. Let it dry again. Leave the stem lighter for now except for an underpainting where the shadow underneath will be. One student just used a dry-brush technique,  below, which worked well also. Another student wanted a blue-grey for the stumps, also below.

(dry-brushed logs)

(blue-gray logs)

To finish the wood, strenghthen the darks in the crevices and dry brush some of the bark. Spatter some on the dry paint. You can also make dark marks and lines to create bark. 

I wanted to recreate a wetlands look, since these birds live and nest in the bark in the Oxbow area near our home. To make it look like the stumps are in flooded waters, I put a muddy blue/green wash for the water. I darkened the bottoms of the stumps, at the water line to make it look wetter. I painted a reflection of the stumps in the water. Then I lifted horizontal lines in the water to create ripples. I did also paint some water grasses and their reflections in the water. 


Bokeh is an effect achieved through certain camera lenses that put an object in sharp focus, but blur the background. That blurred background is the bokeh. This part will require:
  1. about 15 minutes of uninterrupted time
  2. two containers of water, one clean, one for rinsing
  3. TWO brushes: one for applying paint, one for applying clean water
  4. 3 colors in well-dissolved puddles
  5. (I used cerulean, hansa yellow, dioxozine purple)

  6. You don't want to be trying to reconstitute paint while your doing this.This is wet on wet. You want wet, shiny, but not puddles. Wet an area with your clean brush, going an inch or 2 beyond where you will drop paint. Your paint will go where you have put the water. Then drop in cerulean, adding a little yellow. Add some purple in areas that you want a darker contrast.
Continue working around the birds, always keeping the leading edge wet so that you can continually add paint. If you get blossoms, you can either add more (by spattering water drops onto damp paint) or wait until they dry and gently blend them in. Please remember the 3" rule: don't go more than 3" before making a change in your color. 

When the background is dry, soften the downy feathers of the birds in the head and breast areas. You can use a scrubbing brush or just a softer lifting brush. This will create a soft blend of the background with the birds.
If your stumps need to have some light on them, tear a length of masking tape in half lengthewise. Tape half of the tape on the left side of the crack you want to make and the other half of the tape on the right side. Run a wet lifting brush along the crack in the tape, and when it is dry, remove the tape.
This is a good method for getting back some of your lights on a rought texture.
Darken the shadowed part of the stem, if you have one. 
Strenghthen the shadows underneath the wings. Be sure the eyes are very dark. Create some little feathers in the tops of the wings. Paint the legs with a blue gray, leaving some white for hightlight.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Prothonotary Warblers

In honor of the Oxbow show that Southeastern Indiana Art Guild is participating in next week, we are painting two warblers that live and nest in our little wetlands in Indiana/Cincinnati area. Using a photo found on pixabay (website for free usage of photos), we started with a sketch. I got some good tips from The Mind of Watercolor on drawing these birds. #1: Use watercolor pencil the color of the bird or #2: after drawing, lighten the pencil lines with gum eraser. Since these are yellow birds, I and pencil lines would definitely show through, I thought these were good tips.

To show a little bit about GLAZING and UNDERPAINTING, I used paynes gray, very lightly, to shade the underbelly. It is hard to make yellows go to a dark enough value to show roundness, so you often have to "push" the color a bit. The bird on the left is underpainted with a bit of paynes gray on the underside. The bird on the right is underpainted with yellow ochre mixed with paynes gray. You can also use a light violet mix made from cobalt blue and magenta. DRY COMPLETELY, as this is a glaze technique.
If you want, you can underpaint the top wing feathers with an olive green. In class we did the yellow first, then added green.

Using two yellows (I used Hansa light and New Gamboge), paint the heads and bellies of the birds. Start with the light, then add New Gamboge in the more shaded areas as you go. Let it dry. Then add as many layers of yellows as you need to get the effect you want. Paint the yellow over the green top feathers. (Prothonotary Warblers males are warmer yellow while females are more lemon yellow). If you want to add some quin gold in some shaded areas, that looks good too. 
I was pleased with how the underpainting contributed to the round feeling of the birds.

Bird wings are generally in three sections: short, fat wings over the "shoulder" area; longer feathers just beneath that; and the longest flight feathers last of all. If a bird has a short tail and long flight feathers, you will often see the flight feathers look crossed in the back. 
Starting with the tail area, put a glaze of cobalt blue over the wing feathers, gradually blending them out in the shoulder area so there is no definite line. On the right bird I did short strokes of cobalt, painting in the direction of the feathers, so I could leave tiny bits of white.  When it is dry, use a darker mix of blue to make the lines between the feathers. The shoulder feathers just have soft short lines that are softened away. The other feathers have hard small lines. Try to leave bits of white if you did not mask out any whites.

You will want to emphasize the space between the wing and the body. I used burnt orange to paint along the edge of the wing and body, then added French ultramarine and blended out toward the body, leaving a hard edge against the wing, but softening it toward the belly. (you can just mix some yellow and red for the orange.) I wish now that I'd let the orange dry first, then put in the blue, because it bled more than I wanted, and I'll have to clean up the backrun it made.
Mix a dark blue with burnt umber (or indigo) and carefully paint in the eyes, being sure to leave a white hilight. Paint the beaks with this dark color. For the beak on the right hand bird, just paint the bottom beak and the nostril on the top. Dry, then glaze with a bit of cobalt so there is some difference between the two. 


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Two New Paintings

Just wanted to show what the tennis shoe looked like after it was framed. Glenn helped me redo an imperfect frame. The inner mat is purple and the frame matches the shoe laces. I thought it needed something less traditional.

This is from a photo Glenn took at Oxbow. Photo is excellent. It is a pearl crescent butterfly on wildflowers. The butterfly wing span is probably just over an inch. This is for the Oxbow Show in Lawrenceburg June 23-25.


I did a lot of finishing touches here. I removed all the miskit after I put in the background. So here's the rundown:

Background: I started with a piece of tracing paper to decide how I wanted my background. I set the tracing paper over the truck, then experimented. Doing it on tracing paper lets you see if you have the perspective correct before committing it to the paper. To find my horizon line I tried to figure out where my eye level on the truck would be....probably around the level of the medallion on the hood. Since all the background elements are made up, I needed to be sure if I put in a building, animals, or other items that they fit the angle and perspective of the truck. So decide where you want to put things on your tracing paper first.

Also decide the placement of your elements. Try to avoid lining up hills, trees, or fences with horizontal lines in the truck. In other words, don't end a hill at the roof or other line in the truck. Also, choose colors that will enhance the truck, not fight it for attention. Don't paint a value that is too close to the value of the truck.

I did a wash of cerulean for the sky, pulling out some faint clouds with a large, thirsty brush. Then I put some faint golden hills beneath the sky, and some dulled green trees in faintly under the hills. Think about aerial perspective. The farther back your trees, hills, etc., the duller in color and less detailed they will be. I put in a faint pond on a dull green field and added some fence posts.

For the foreground, I drybrushed some burnts sienna, leaving some white spots. While wet I spattered some burnt sienna, red, and greens. Then when it dried I spattered some more to create the feeling of gravel. Then I added some grasses poking through the gravel. Make sure to have some shadow underneath the back tires so they don't lok like they are floating in air.

A word of caution on backgrounds. Don't just add something because it's in the reference or because you  think it would look good. If it doesn't add to the composition, then don't put it in. Or put it in a different place. On a small picture like this, only add what is going to improve the composition or the feeling you are trying to convey.

DETAILS: I removed all miskit. To get the rust on the white painted grill, I softened the paint in the dark areas above each grill piece and pulled some of it out onto the white to dull the white. If it needed rust, I added some lunar earth or burnt sienna/French ultramarine.

 I added rust to the bars over the rectangular mirror and to the small square mirror. I used a dulled yellow for the rectangular mirror. I painted the amber pyramid lights at the top. For the headlights, I painted the chrome by painting the bottom blue and putting in some reflections. On the glass I lightly shaded the top half and left most of the bottom half white. I painted in the dark part of the windshield wipers and carefully painted the darks in the V8 sign. I added a little detail to the wheels to make them pop out a little.  Then I redarkened parts that I thought needed to have a little more emphasis, like behind the front tire. I put shadow in underneath the Ford sign on the side panel.

On the window wipers chrome I cheated just a bit and used white ink pen. I just can't paint that small!

I did demo how to use a razor blade/exacto to scrape some white into parts of the rust on the front bumper. You can also scrape a bit of white into the gravel area for more texture.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

1955 Ford Truck

When I was looking at the photograph again, I noticed that something I thought was a yellow window is actually part of the truck: it's a side mirror on (my) right. I liked it and decided to pencil it in. You can see it in this picture. I will miskit it because I don't want to lose those lines doing the background. 

For those who like to work ahead a little, continue painting the rust in the technique you liked best. I decided that I liked putting the rust in on the white, letting it dry, and then painting the truck color and blending it into the rust. All miskit is still on. I painted the rust on the wheels, bumper, any place there was rust. I did put a coat of dark on the tires, making sure to leave some marks for the tread. 
And because it was looking a little undefined to me, I put some of the dark lines in: around the window (don't do it there if you are going to work more in the window area); under the hood; around the door.

If you want your truck to be similar to this color, I've put below some possible color combinations that would work. I realize we don't all have the same colors, so I know these should work for you. I mostly used cobalt teal with orange, then darkened it with some pthalo in darker areas. But I could have used any of these combinations. 

Next Thursday, we'll finish up details and background. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Here is a photo my husband took of a 1955 C600 truck in Guilford, Indiana. 

I changed it to black and white so I could see the values more clearly. Then I sketched it out and studied the details. Even though I may not use all the tiny details, I wanted to understand more about the vehicle before painting it. I asked questions about what some items were used for; I looked up Ford medallions and emblems on Google; and I looked up more detailed pictures of what this would look like. Then I created a picture on tracing paper and shaded in my darkest values and my midtones. I am NOT mechanical, so when I tackle something like this, I want to know all I can going in. 

You can see 5 Things Realistic Painters Do Well on Mind of Watercolor youtube channel

I miskited the chrome parts and anything that looked very white and sharp edged. I miskited the windshield wipers and mirrors, even tho some of that will be dark. I just don't want to paint around all those tiny things.
Then with burnt sienna and French Ultra Marine, I painted in the darkest darks. This helps me sometimes to see where I'm going in a picture. The dark under the front bumper is hard edged near the bumper, but fades softly toward the ground. I wanted it jagged because I want to put grass underneath. (The truck will eventually be put in a field)

For the window, I wet the window area, lay in a faint wash of turquoise, then while wet, I put in some ultramarine (but I wish I'd used cobalt) to darken the top of the window and create the illusion of the back and side windows. I added a little pink to the right side of the window and in the back window.

Cobalt teal blue with a little orange in it helped create the basic truck color. I wanted to show 3 ways of doing rust:
1. Wet in wet. Paint the item with the local color, then while wet, add burnt sienna in the rust areas, then add a bit of ultramarine to create rust. (See this on fender on my left).
2. Rust over a dry painted area. (That is what I will do on the door wasn't dry yet)
3. Rust on a white area. The fender on my right was burnt sienna with ultramarine added to create rust. Also on the top of the cab. 
Choose the method that works best for you. 

The steering wheel and window details. Inside the front window I want the steering wheel to show, but not be too obvious. All I did was wet the wheel, and gradually dab in drab color until it got to be the shade I wanted. I don't want it hard edged, or it will not look like it is behind the glass.