"Night Traveler".......Blue Heron in Flight

"Night Traveler".......Blue Heron in Flight

This painting has been drawn up for a couple of months and I just haven't had the time to get started on it until today.  This will be the fourth one in my "Golden Moon Series".  I usually start out my painting process by deciding on my colors that I am going to use.  Because this is a great blue heron....he is going to be gray toned but I really don't want to just use gray.  So while I am going to allow myself to use Payne's Gray I will be infusing it with other colors that I am seeing in the image.  I have several different tubes of Paynes Gray and each one has a different color tone....some more blue in color and some more neutral gray.

I tend to be a huge fan of Daniel Smith Watercolors...their purity in pigment is unsurpassable. Lunar Black is a wonderful color of theirs due to its properties in granulating.   

I tend to be a huge fan of Daniel Smith Watercolors...their purity in pigment is unsurpassable. Lunar Black is a wonderful color of theirs due to its properties in granulating.   

These are my usual brushes that I use for painting.....½" Cats Tongue, #6 or 8 Kolinsky Sable. a 3/8 wedge by Robert Simmons and a #8 or 10 synthetic round by  Robert Simmons.  Students always ask me whats the difference between a natural hair vs a synthetic fiber.....A natural hair brush will hold more water and paint thus allowing you less going back and forth to your pallet. I like to use the synthetic brush for my lifting and techniques.  

These are my usual brushes that I use for painting.....½" Cats Tongue, #6 or 8 Kolinsky Sable. a 3/8 wedge by Robert Simmons and a #8 or 10 synthetic round by  Robert Simmons.  Students always ask me whats the difference between a natural hair vs a synthetic fiber.....A natural hair brush will hold more water and paint thus allowing you less going back and forth to your pallet. I like to use the synthetic brush for my lifting and techniques.  

Great Blue Heron Image that I am working from.  i spend a lot of time studying my photo for my color selections.  I try to infuse as many colors as I can when painting.  I think it helps to the drama and excitement of the painting.  

Great Blue Heron Image that I am working from.  i spend a lot of time studying my photo for my color selections.  I try to infuse as many colors as I can when painting.  I think it helps to the drama and excitement of the painting.  

I am working on Arches 300lb cold press paper.  Here I have laid in my first few washes.  I tend to pre-wet my paper and drop my colors in while the paper is still glistening.  

I am working on Arches 300lb cold press paper.  Here I have laid in my first few washes.  I tend to pre-wet my paper and drop my colors in while the paper is still glistening.  

A Close up detail of the herons face.  Birds are like people...they each have a different personality in their faces so I try to reflect that in each of my paintings. I have used Daniel Smith Quin. Gold for the herons eyes and on his beak.  I have also dropped in some Quin Sienna and a little bit of Quin. Rose.  

A Close up detail of the herons face.  Birds are like people...they each have a different personality in their faces so I try to reflect that in each of my paintings. I have used Daniel Smith Quin. Gold for the herons eyes and on his beak.  I have also dropped in some Quin Sienna and a little bit of Quin. Rose.  

I continue to build up my grays.  When I am painting these images I have to keep in mind that my background will be black so I am constantly thinking about where I am placing my darks.  On the head of the heron I wasn't too worried about this because I will have the golden moon in the area behind his head.  

I continue to build up my grays.  When I am painting these images I have to keep in mind that my background will be black so I am constantly thinking about where I am placing my darks.  On the head of the heron I wasn't too worried about this because I will have the golden moon in the area behind his head.  

Close up of the wing detail.  I have been dropping in some American Journey "Taylors Flamingo Pink along with Cerulean Blue to enhance my gray colors.  

Close up of the wing detail.  I have been dropping in some American Journey "Taylors Flamingo Pink along with Cerulean Blue to enhance my gray colors.  

Around the eye area going into the beak I have used the Lunar Black by Daniel Smith.....you can see how it does some wonderful granulation.  

Around the eye area going into the beak I have used the Lunar Black by Daniel Smith.....you can see how it does some wonderful granulation.

 

Here I'm spending more time deepening the values in the wings.  You can see the beautiful granulation that is beginning to happen with the colors.  

Here I'm spending more time deepening the values in the wings.  You can see the beautiful granulation that is beginning to happen with the colors.  

OK...a good time to share some issues that come up from time to time.....I am coming back in with too much water and it is pushing the pigments to the edge of the paper.  Where the paper is dry reacts like a sponge and it will pull the pigments of the paint to the edges causing an outline look.  In some cases I will leave this but there are times when you really don't want this outline look on your painting. 

OK...a good time to share some issues that come up from time to time.....I am coming back in with too much water and it is pushing the pigments to the edge of the paper.  Where the paper is dry reacts like a sponge and it will pull the pigments of the paint to the edges causing an outline look.  In some cases I will leave this but there are times when you really don't want this outline look on your painting. 

When using 300lb paper you really have to let the paper dry before going back into your work.  The paper may feel dry to the touch but if the paper is still cool to the touch then it is still wet.  Leave it alone and let it really dry before going back in with another glaze.  If you go in when the paper is still damp it will lift your pigments and cause the area to become muddy looking.

When using 300lb paper you really have to let the paper dry before going back into your work.  The paper may feel dry to the touch but if the paper is still cool to the touch then it is still wet.  Leave it alone and let it really dry before going back in with another glaze.  If you go in when the paper is still damp it will lift your pigments and cause the area to become muddy looking.

Stay tuned for further progress............

 

Painting in a series......

Painting in a Series........................

Over the many years that I have been painting I have always enjoyed painting in a series.  This gives me the opportunity to bring to each new painting the knowledge I have gained from the previous one.  My Golden Moon Series was started about 20 years ago.   "Heron In A Golden Moon"  was the first painting that I did with gold leafing after taking a workshop with Linda Stevens Moyer AWS, NWS. 

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This past January I taught a wildlife workshop and was demonstrating a barn owl.  When the owl was  almost completed it struck me that I really wanted to revisit my Golden Moon Series and so I added a gold leafed moon behind the owl and then painted in my black background.  That painting was featured on The Laurel of Asheville magazine.  In September I completed "Black Crown Night Heron" as seen below.

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While working on this series I have also been working on trying to find a  new watercolor paper.  After painting on Winsor & Newton 140lb watercolor paper for over twenty years they closed their plant several years ago and I have run out of my stash that I had been saving.  I have used many different papers over the years.  Arches 300lb cp being one of them and it is great paper but just not my favorite for painting every subject matter.  I recently tried some Twinrocker Watercolor paper......WOW....love this paper and even though its a little spendy its worth the investment.  This paper is made in Indiana and is handmade with beautiful deckle edges.  They have a large variety of papers that they make ranging from print-making to watercolor.....they even offer tinted watercolor papers for those painters that enjoy painting on a tinted surface.  If you would like to try their papers go to their website:  www.twinrocker.com.

Staying Inspired

Staying Inspired............

Recently I received an email from one of my students saying she was having a difficult time going to her studio painting now that she's not in a weekly class.  She also asked how I stayed inspired with my creativity.  

As artist we are all inspired to paint for different reasons.  I have always been a happy painter and found that during times of stress, loss of a friend, pet or loved one I had a difficult time going to the studio to paint.  Some of my other artist friends use their stress or depression to push through and create their art then.  I remember seeing an interview some years ago with a very well known country singer saying that some of his lowest times or break-ups pushed him into writing and creating some of his best music.  Talk about turning lemons into lemonade.  

Painting for me is a very spiritual activity.  Its a time for quietness and reflection.  Its about sharing your vision thats in your head and putting it on paper.  I tend to have all kinds of thoughts ramble through my head when I am painting.  Recently my dear friend Mary Alice Braukman NWS gave me a wonderful book "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield.  A couple of months went by and I finally picked up the book and started reading it.  This is a remarkable small book packed with a lot of truths and knowledge of how to stay inspired and break through some of those tough times.  I would highly recommend this to any of my students or artist friends.  This little book will forever remain on my night stand.  

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Last Bouquet of the Summer.....demonstration continued.....

Stage 3:  As I continue to build my colors up I am continually keeping my colors clean and transparent.  I have found that reds are one of the hardest colors to keep transparent and vibrant. Painting with beautiful clean transparent colors is my biggest goal when laying down my glazes and washes.  I am very particular about the manufacturer of my colors.  I don't use just one company in particular.  I have found that depending on the paint company the pigment qualities and transparencies can vary widely.  I am a huge fan of Daniel Smith Watercolors.  I have used them for over 30 years.  You can't beat Daniel Smith's quality and transparency.  Sennelier makes beautiful granulating pigments so I usually purchase my cerulean blues and ultramarine blues from them because of their beautiful granulation.  If I have peaked your interest in my color information you can learn a lot more on my teaching DVD "Creating Vibrant Color" which can be purchased on my website under the "SHOP" button.

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I am using a lot of Indian yellow and Quinacridone Gold for the warm yellows and the red is a beautiful warm red called Perelyne Scarlet by Daniel Smith with some Quinacridone Sienna. 

I am using a lot of Indian yellow and Quinacridone Gold for the warm yellows and the red is a beautiful warm red called Perelyne Scarlet by Daniel Smith with some Quinacridone Sienna. 

As you can see in this image I have continued to darken the shadows dropping in more reflective color.  I also used some salt in the faces of the cone flower and some of the Black-eyed Susan's.  You need to drop the salt in while the pigments are still wet.  Different salts will give your different textures.  

As you can see in this image I have continued to darken the shadows dropping in more reflective color.  I also used some salt in the faces of the cone flower and some of the Black-eyed Susan's.  You need to drop the salt in while the pigments are still wet.  Different salts will give your different textures.  

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A few more images of up-close details.

A few more images of up-close details.

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Here you can really see the salt crystals.  Remember....once you have completed the painting.....remove all of the salt crystals before framing. 

This is the last image that I have of this demonstration.....sadly to say sometimes I get caught up in the painting process and forget to stop and take photos......or the afternoon southern thunderstorms roll in and I can't step outside to photograph the piece....in this case we had several days of rain, rain and more rain and I just wanted to finish the painting.  What can I say....Just shoot me!

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You can see the completed image under Available Originals.  

If you enjoyed this post please like and share on your favorite social media....also please pin on Pinterest.  Thanks and stay tuned for the next lesson insight.  Until then......keep those brushes wet!

The Last Bouquet of Summer.......a still life demonstration

The Last Bouquet of Summer.....a still life demonstration

Painting still life's has been a passion of mine.  Earlier this summer a friend brought me a bouquet of her last zinnia's in her garden.  Their colors were so beautiful I just had to paint them.  I do all of my still life photography.  Sometimes I spend several days setting up the composition and studying the light.  Below is the photo reference I used for my painting demonstration.

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Stage 1:  I spend a lot of time studying my photo and making my color decisions.  One thing that I really like to focus on are the shadows.  One of the reasons I chose this particular image was for the beautiful reflective shadows and ambient light on the white vase.  Cast shadows typically don't have as much color in them as ambient light shadows.  I never use Paynes Gray for my shadow colors....for me this is a big no no.  Shadows should be infused with the colors that are coming from the surrounding subjects.  

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Stage 2: Begins with  getting my drawing on the paper and laying in the first few glazes.  Typically I usually start with my lightest colors such as yellows and orange.  I always begin my glazes with transparent colors.  Aureolin Yellow was used for the cool transparent yellow and Indian Yellow was used for the warm yellows.  Stay tuned for the next few stages.......