I thought my phone case could use a little dressing up so I added a belted kingfisher. It looks a little odd when opened up and laid flat. Closed it works as 2 images with the bird on the front and its habitat on the back. The case has a sealed finish so it doesn’t lend itself to this kind of process. I did add a layer of varnish but the act of opening and closing the phone case regularly means this decorative detail won’t last very long. I have a tendency to paint random objects on a whim. Permanency isn’t factored in as it’s just for fun.
This crow study was completed in my small (5 1/2 by 8 in) sketchbook. Rather than using a pigment (ink) pen this image was rendered with a brush, Speedball Super Pigmented Acrylic Ink, and acrylic paint. Using a brush with the acrylic ink allows for the opportunity to make a variety of marks without changing tools. The super black ink is highly opaque when undiluted but I also used it as a wash here to create different tones. I opted to work from dark to light and layered acrylic paint on top of the ink to flesh out the image.
This 12 inch square piece is acrylic on board. I combined imagery sourced from my collection of photographs to create the narrative.
This is the first time I’ve attempted something figurative on such a small scale. I’m not sure if it’s something I will repeat. Because the picture above is a close up cropped image you can get a good sense of the elements but viewing the piece from a distance (as in the un-cropped photo below) I feel like a bit of that is lost because of the size.
That said I don’t feel the piece is unsuccessful. I did establish a solid narrative theme, which was my original intent, as well as learned a bit about the ins and outs of working smaller.
My house was built circa 1910. Being a lath and plaster construct, it wasn’t insulated. The people who owned it before us installed blown insulation in the walls and attic. At that time most of the attic flooring was removed leaving a few planks to walk on and a couple of smaller cuts lying around. I’m not sure what kind of wood the flooring is but I’m of the mind that it might be hemlock. The portion I used to create this piece has a lovely rich colour along with some interesting dings and scratches. Neither the bottom or top are cut even. It’s an odd fifteen-ish inches high and a smidgen under one inch deep. It is tongue and groove but the groove side was snapped off (it’s still a foot across though). It’s not “pretty” but those are my favourite kind of found objects to use. They have their own history and that added element enriches the final piece.
I’ve not been lucky enough to photograph a Great Grey Owl so I went online to research my subject. I didn’t draw from any single source but rather found inspiration in a variety of places. I noticed that owls exhibit consistent perching behaviour no matter the breed or environment so that determined the composition. I used a layer of matte varnish to seal the wood before I started painting. This juvenile Great Great Owl, painted with acrylic and somewhat stylized, is all about the brushwork. Building from dark to light I fashioned shape and substance with layers of small brushstrokes making no attempt to blend or smooth them out. I wanted the image to retain the unique properties of the wood surface. To that end, although there are multiple layers of paint it’s not so thick as to hide the texture of the wood allowing it to be seen through the brushstrokes.
The bridge on Brouwers Line is located just outside the Archie Coulter Conservation Area. The conservation area stretches for 133 acres along the west branch of Catfish Creek. This piece is based on a photograph I took whilst visiting the site a couple of years ago. The first scan is the work in progress as a pigment pen drawing. The second is the piece finished with water colour.
I captured an image of an immature bald eagle way back in February 2006. I was heading down to the lake and stopped to look over the cliffside to see how rough the water was. I was surprised to see the eagle sitting there. The picture ended up blurry as I only had a split second before the raptor saw me and took off. The photograph wasn’t good enough to use anywhere but it was interesting enough to keep for resource material.
For this project I created contrast by layering watercolour washes and allowing them to dry before working darker linear elements on top. The original image was very grey. I thought it might look muddy rendered in watercolour so I opted for a brighter palette. Acrylic was used for the white highlights.
If you compare it to the original image (bottom of post) you can see my watercolour sketch isn’t a faithful rendering. That wasn’t really what I was about here. I primarily wanted to explore how this would work with watercolours in a small scale.
I’ve included this picture to better show the size of the piece. I photographed my sketchbook in the mudroom off the back of the house to make use of the afternoon light. I wish it was as warm as this picture makes it look. It was super chilly!
Although an interesting experiment, I’m not sure watercolour was the most effective medium for this particular composition. I’m not saying I’m unhappy with the results. I learned a lot and if I return to this image as a resource I’ll have a better understanding of how to work with it.
Every October, artists all over the world take on the Inktober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month. I didn’t make the whole 30 days but an attempt was made. I chose to use an 8 inch by 5.5 inch sketchbook. The sketches were completed using Staedler pigment liners and a Pigma brush pen. I’m still on my first brush pen and I’m enjoying the opportunity to make a broader variety of marks in comparison to the finer tipped pigment liners.
I’ve been experimenting with my printer scanning function trying to create digital copies that are true to the originals. I’m not entirely there yet. All three of these images were scanned using document scan settings (two in B&W and one in colour) instead of photo scan settings. You can see a marked difference in how the printer records the information. The document settings result in less “noise” so the whites are a truer white (not so much a textured grey). There is some loss of mid-tones using the B&W document copy settings. The colour document copy settings accentuate the brush pen marks making them appear more distinct than in the original piece but the colours are closer to that original. I did add watercolour to the third sketch so I don’t know if it truly follows the Inktober parameters. The composition wasn’t going to work without it and I didn’t have any coloured pens.
This is the second time I’ve sourced this imagery. I first used it in an ink drawing that I posted here in 2014. I chose to focus more on the surroundings with this piece and used water colour instead of ink in an attempt to create a more nuanced rendering of the landscape.
There’s a traditional in community theatre of giving small mementos at the end of a play run. It’s not supposed to be anything big or expensive; just a little something to remember the experience. I recently had a role in a play that took place in a coffee shop/bar type place. I made 20 little 4 inch by 5 inch water colour and pigment ink sketches of coffee beans (because of the coffee shop setting) to give to the cast and crew. I didn’t actually need 20 but I was letting people choose which one they liked. They were all a little different and I wanted to have extra so no one felt like they were getting the very last one that no one else wanted. They’re just loose little sketchy things- nothing fancy just fun. Here’s the four I had left over.