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.
It’s common to find old implements at yard sales and second hand stores in my area. They can be oil covered or rusty so prep work is required before they can be painted. I bought this saw from a second hand charity shop. It was rusty so I sanded it and applied a coat of Tremclad rust primer to create a sealed base coat. The barn owl is painted in acrylic. It’s a bit stylized which I think is a good approach for a found object painting. To finish I applied a spray coat of Krylon varnish to the blade to protect the painting from scratches. I left the handle alone as I like the worn condition left from actual use. It’s a bit of an odd object to photograph so I opted to hang it on plant hook in my back yard to get a full length picture. I’ve included a closer look below as well with a bit less of the background.
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.
Here are three more scans from my 2018 Inktober series. I kept the preliminary pencil work to a minimum attempting to use it specifically for defining overall sections or linear elements rather than detailing. That worked fine for organic material like plants but when it came to anatomy…not so much. That wasn’t a big deal in this context. As an exercise in exploring techniques it’s more interesting figuring out what can be done with the tools at hand rather than meeting a specific aesthetic.
Here are several selections of recent sketches from my travel sketchbook. I’ve had a number of sketchbooks but this is my old go to comfort one. I’ve been carrying it around in my purse for years. It’s become quite battered with dented corners and dirty edges. These sketches are from the very last pages as the book is finally filled up. I feel a little sad that I won’t be bringing it along with me anymore.
I’m continuing to work on smaller scale pieces to keep up momentum when I need a break from larger paintings and drawings. This piece is on a 6″ by 6″ birch plywood panel (it’s mounted on a 1.5″ basswood frame). I didn’t seal the panel so that I could take advantage of the pigment bleed to suggest foliage in the background.
As I mentioned in prior posts I carry a sketchbook with me pretty much everywhere I go. It’s not always possible to work from life as sometimes I’ll find myself in less than idea locations to source material. I try to anticipate this by tucking things into the back of my sketchbook (a photo or magazine clipping for example) to base drawings on when I have the time but am faced with things like sterile office walls etcetera. Unfortunately I don’t always remember to do so and sometimes I have to work from memory. I received a call late at night to attend to a family matter and just had time to grab my bag and head out the door. I ended up being out for the entire night and during that time I started this sketch. Upon review several days later I discovered my “memory” had been a bit faulty and my bird was looking a little more chickadee than waxwing. The image is rendered in ink pigment so it was a good thing I hadn’t gone too far. I took the opportunity to bring it closer to form once I was able to get a look at the real thing.