Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Watching the Changes

Fall is a great time for changes!! My beautiful Pagoda Dogwood tree is giving me gifts of vibrant leaves every day! As I go outside, I find that I just want to pick up every one of them and bring them in to paint. Seriously...my kitchen counter has an "area" filled with acorns, conker chestnuts, leaves, bittersweet berries and maple keys! Usually I am not a fan of autumn because winter follows so closely and leaves us with grey skies for so long! But I feel like a squirrel storing up painting studies to get me through the winter!

This weekend, I spent time outside with my viola plant. I captured some sketches in my sketchbook and then went on to do a vellum study. I struggled on the paper as well as the vellum trying to get a smooth transition between the shades of purples and periwinkles and different yellows! Lots of mixing going on. I recognize the importance of a transparent palette when working on vellum. The Daniel Smith dot card is a great guide right now as I consider which pigments to eliminate in my palette as I try to create one that is transparent. My new favourite Daniels Smith Colour is Rose of Ultramarine! Here is the completed vellum study.
This is my first little leaf study as well.
As I painted outside. I was surrounded by so many bluejays! I keep their peanut feeder filled and they keep me entertained. I wanted to capture one of the young bluejays in a Victorian meets Medieval setting. The sketch and the foliate work were painted in the evening.
I used my dry brush techniques on the bird and traditional illumination and painting skills on the rest of the design. I am seeing these two worlds merge together. The little Bluejay is part of my Enchanted Meadow Series. More to come as I expand that series and prepare to teach that workshop in Birmingham next year. The pen work on this piece was done with Ziller Buffalo Brown. I appreciate that it is always as fresh as a brand new bottle without any of the surprises of McCaffery Brown. But the line quality is thicker so I use a very light touch and a very stiff nib in my pen holder. This was the final result of my painting day.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Progress so Far

I have been on this butterfly journey since early August. They are incredibly detailed to paint but I am finding that I love attempting the detail. I combined dry brush vellum painting techniques on this Peacock Butterfly. I was working from photographs for this subject rather than a specimen and I noticed a difference in how I could see the detail.
Much easier with an actual specimen! So much to learn and enjoying every step of the journey. Sometimes I find the vellum easy to work with and other times I need to coax it to behave. The dry brush technique is rough on the brush as well so I am taking extra care to condition it properly after using it. More soon with progress on my botanical subjects. I am looking foward to incorporating these techniques into my pen work.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

In Process

Busy fall for sure. Mulitple teaching trips and many workshops on the go. But I am loving this diversion into the natural world to study painting on vellum. My butterfly class took a little detour as we looked at other insects. Meet Chrysochroa Buqueti Rugicolis.
What a beauty!!! A coppery metallic head, metallic purple markings against a shiny flax coloured body. I am in awe of this creature. I wouldn't want to see him in the kitchen cupboard but we are friends in this format. I did the initial drawing on graph paper as I still find the measuring process to be a bit challenging.
Drawing straight lines has always been a challenge so the graph paper keeps me in line! Also part of the study process is testing the paint colours in a sketch book. I purchased the Stillman and Birn Zeta series hardbound sketch book for these studies.
The paper is heavy and very smooth and able to take watercolour washes. The process of testing the subject with a small sketch and colour swatches eliminates the process of trial and error at the colour stage. The thinking and planning are done in the sketchbook. It also slows me down and makes me much more deliberate in my thought process. A real change from the free forming of offhand flourishing. The metallic copper and russet in the head are not in any of my watercolour tubes but thankfully the Daniel Smith metallic dots came to the rescue.
They are awfully tempting to use but I can see that I need to be very careful in applying them. He is still in process. I am enjoying the process of learning new techniques and getting over my fear of insects at the same time!