Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Carolina Wren

I have spent every possible moment I had this summer in my little outdoor sanctuary. I love my studio but Oscar loves it too and his favourite thing lately has been to lie down on my hands while I am working. He also loves a fresh sheet of paper and thinks it is his job to bruise it before I start working. I still take him outside on the leash to let him explore and last week when I took him out I saw my first Carolina Wren.
The song from the little bird is positively enchanting They are loud, fast and very musical. There were at least six of them in my weeping pea tree before Oscar started climbing the tree. But one of them lingered for nearly 20 minutes.
I was able to observe him carefully and I wanted to try to capture him in watercolour. I first thought the Wren would be a good addition to my Enchanted Meadow series but I wanted to work slightly larger and capture as much detail as possible. This piece is on vellum. Finished size is 3"x2". I gilded the piece with Miniatum Ink and 24K gold. The colour palette for the wren was yellow ochre, brown ochre, burnt sienna, burnt umber, sepia and payne's grey. I used a moist brush technique to build up the layers. There are several layers.
The piece is done entirely with my 3/0 Escoda 1212 Sable brush.I am enamoured with the work of Marie Angel and I used the limning techniques described in her book Painting For Calligraphers. The outdoor sanctuary has brought many birds for me to observe this summer. I hope to capture a few more with this technique to remember such a wonderful summer of sights and sounds.


Joseph Chapman said...

Beautiful piece. Did you do a field sketch or just hold it all in your head?

Of course, when I got to the picture of the finished W but before I read the next paragraph I thought, "That sure looks like something by Marie Angel."

Do you have The Sibley Guide to Birds? Great field guide, but it also ought to be on every bird painter's shelf.

Heather Victoria Held said...

Thanks Joseph! I was sitting under the weeping pea watching the wren but I didn't have a paper and pencil! I couldn't believe I was seeing a wren! I stayed outside until it flew away and then I came inside and went through my field guide books. From there I did sketches and finally put the design together! So much fun. Incidentally, I have gone outside every day looking for those wrens again and they haven't returned! I don't have the Sibley Guide. I guess I should find that! Thank you!
I love Marie's work. Her work is so much more intricate than mine but I love her nature studies. Always so much to learn!