Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jeeves.....in the beginning.

11 x 14 inches
watercolor and colored pencil

This is my first portrait of a winged guest we've been hosting since December. Frank first saw this off season visitor, which we named Jeeves, in early December. He is a Harris Sparrow, and is a VERY RARE sighting here in Kentucky. In the months since, we've had numerous human visitors, of the bird watching variety (sorta like Jeeves groupies), all come to catch a sighting of this rare avian visitor.

Frank and I have SO enjoyed talking with the Jeeves “groupies”, and Jeeves has shown his appreciation for the attention (or maybe just for the corn and sunflower seed offerings) by showing up for the human visitors, with no one going away without seeing Jeeves. We named him Jeeves, because at the time we had been binge watching an old PBS series, “Jeeves and Wooster”, and the Harris sparrow with his crisp feathers, just had to be called the valet's name of Jeeves.

I did this watercolour/colored pencil Jeeves portrait from an early photo taken by Frank. Jeeves is very good at hiding out among other birds, but his white breast and bold black chest feathers and pink bill, are the key to his identity. Frank had spotted him, on a gloomy low light December day, and knew immediately he had found something special. In the succeeding weeks, Frank made up various rock feeding “stations” with corn or other types of bird seed feed, to convince Jeeves to hang around. Luckily for me, the “corn rock” and larger sunflower seed rocks “framed” Jeeves in the photo I used for reference of the painting.

I used watercolor to give a bit of light and colour to the mostly monochrome background brush, which is a favorite hide out for Jeeves. Colored pencils were great for picking out the details on Jeeves and to delineate some of the seed details in the foreground.

Just recently, Frank has gotten some superb Jeeves' photos, and I am working on another painting of our visitor......it is gonna be his “glamour” portrait.

You can see more of Frank's photos of Jeeves, and numerous other bird visitors here on Frank's Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/123438032@N04/

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Colored Pencil Geek-dom

OK.....I admit it.....I'm an artist geek! I luv figuring out ways to make my art work “work” better. Recently I was going thru some old International Artist mags, and my eye lit upon a ten year old article about colour. The part that caught my eye was about the importance of value (lights and darks) in colour work.

I've been experimenting with colored pencils over watercolour washes. I've enjoyed using colored pencil marks to join together disparate washes, while providing “grace notes” of color for highlights.

I've noticed that when I go to my colored pencil holders I more often than not, go for colours associated by lights/darks. Instead of worrying as much about the hue (color) or local color of an object I look for values. My pencils had been arranged loosely by hue or color (i.e. reds, blues, greens, purples etc)

After reading this article, I rearranged my colored pencils by value....lights, brights,medium and dark values....irregardless of colour.

When I tried this system out, it made it SO much easier when I reached for a pencil for a highlight.....or to blend in a face shadow......or wanted to wake up a dull patch on cloth. It had the added advantage of forcing me to remember about temperature of colours......and consider reflected lights.

There is an old adage: “You are what you eat”. Well in my case, “I am (in colored pencil work) how I “organize” my colours.”