Sunday, April 13, 2014

Raven ~ complete?

I finally got this one done...I think. I hope she reads as a black cat because there is very little black in this painting. It's mostly Carbazole violet, Quin. violet, Cobalt blue deep and Moonglow. I only used the neutral tint to tone down the other colors. I cut it 1/2 & 1/2 with Carbazole violet to make my 'black'. Even Moonglow will go quite dark if used with enough strength. I did wind up playing with my color study and gave it a overall wash of yellow ochre. The results were pleasantly surprising and seemed to unify the entire painting without taking anything away or causing a distraction. I'm not sure yet if I want to go this route with the current painting.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Raven ~ color study

I've tried two different palettes and I think this one is the best. I did a couple of hasty drawings. The first I went kinda crazy. I used turquoise, green and a black I mixed from Burnt sienna and FUB. Not good. For this trial I did an under painting with various purples including DS Moonglow, one violet and cobalt blue deep. For the black I used straight neutral tint. I really love neutral tint. It produces a nice rich black and lifts easily. I went over my under painting with the tint after it was dry and lifted out my highlights/whiskers/etc. back to the under painting colors. Purple suits Raven. She was great at walking across my paintings, tracking whatever color she'd stepped in first. One particular painting that got the Raven treatment involved purple cat tracks. I still have that painting. I just can't seem to part with it. Also it happened to be a painting of another cat and that's when I decided purple and cats go together. A minor epiphany at the time. 

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Raven ~ drawing

I was looking through some old picture folders a few days ago and stumbled onto a photo of Raven I had completely forgotten I'd taken. I still don't remember taking that particular shot but it's clear enough to use for a portrait. Even though she's been gone since 2007 I haven't painted her portrait because I didn't think I had any decent photos of her. Not that I didn't try but black cats are difficult to photograph. I've always felt bad that I've never honored her memory in this way. She was the most beautiful black cat I've ever seen. Fur like silk and her eyes were the most incredible shade of green/gold with a bit of turquoise around the irises. Her ears were big and round. When she ran she would fold them back against her head and she looked like she was flying. For that reason my youngest son named her Raven. I hope I'm able to capture her beauty and spirit in a portrait.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Merganser ~ complete

I finished this up last night. Today it's gloomy so not the best photo. My Canon has a noise reduction feature that seems to have brought out the blue tones in the paint which aren't that noticeable IRL. Also my monitor shows all the greens as various shades of lime. Not sure how they appear to others. Maybe someone will stop by and let me know. Oh well. Here it is, warts and all.

Note: I've discovered I've been misspelling the name of the duck. It's 'merganser with an 'S', not a 'Z'. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Merganser ~ WIP 2

I'm posting an update on my merganser. I will admit, I was dragging my feet on this. All those feathers! Somehow it's coming together even though I lost a lot of my drawing when I removed the masking and (as usual) I didn't take the time to redraw what was lost before beginning to paint. Patience was never one of my virtues and it's bit me in the rear end more than once. I'm calling this duck done. Now all that is left is the reflections in the water.

My palette is limited. I used W/N FUB and DS Quin. Sienna for my greys, browns and blacks. The water is W/N Sap green and D/R Indian yellow. I toned down the chroma of the Sap green with a little Quin Sienna in some areas.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Experiment ~ acrylic gesso and gloss gel medium on matboard

...and finished with Ranger alcohol ink. I've wanted to give this a try to see if it would work and I'd say it was successful. I used a dried bloom of a large ornamental grass and embedded it with Liquitex acrylic gesso onto 3/16" white matboard. I've done this before with dried oak leaves (link) . I then gave it a coat of Liquitex Gloss Gel medium diluted with a little water. When that was dry I rubbed walnut ink over the entire surface and wiped away the excess. The walnut ink ran into all the nooks and crannies and gave the piece an antiqued look. I could've stopped there but I wanted to see how Ranger ink behaved on the gloss medium so when that was dry I gave this another light coat of gloss medium. It served to preserve the effects of the walnut ink and gave me a slick surface to apply the alcohol ink. Then I added the ink and found it moved well on the gloss surface. I had a bit more control than on Yupo but the effects were basically the same. I used Ranger's Caramel, Clover and Copper mixative.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Merganser ~ drawing

I may have been silent for awhile but I have been working on a few projects. One project is an experiment and is still in the works. I'll be posting about that in the near future. I did get this drawing of a merganzer duck completed and it's ready for transfer to working paper. I will probably be using watercolor to complete this one.

I'll never forget the moment I saw my first merganser. It was a very large female with her brood of 10-12 duckings. She was resting on a large flat boulder near the shoreline of Lake Michigan, her babies scurrying all around her. Mergansers have a impressive auburn 'DA' on their heads and I thought she was the most amazing duck I had ever seen. I can only hope to do this duck justice with paint.

Note: My reference photo is courtesy of Sandy Witvoet, an avid birdwatcher and fellow gardener. Sandy has a Michigan birding site, complete with interactive forum. If you are interested in joining or would just love to see all the incredible photos on the site, please check out Michigan Birding Network .

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Mr Doob Crows

I'm feeling much better but my time away from my art has left me searching for renewed inspiration. I've browsed my photo files but found nothing that excites me so today I played with Mr Doob. The weather here in northern Michigan has begun to shift from arctic tundra conditions to something near normal and it's brought out a flock of crows which I've enjoyed sketching. My sketches are crude so I decided to try my hand at some digi art. For those not familiar with Mr Doob (link) it's a free digital art program that tests not only your drawing skills but your skills at maneuvering a computer mouse as well. If you follow the link I provided, click on the color wheel icon on the menu at the top of the page to use the sketching features. I did put the top image into GIMP photo editing program to 'feather out' the feathers.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

A Cemetery Mink

Sometimes I don't feel like making happy, beautiful art. Sometimes it's fun to explore something a little darker in nature. For some odd reason I've had a quote from an unknown author running through my head lately and at the time I first read it, it evoked a visceral reaction that has stayed with me long afterward. It's from the book 'Silence of the Lambs' by Thomas Harris and although it was printed in italic(making the reader assume it's a quote) no author has been named. How delightfully mysterious. In context, it appeared as an errant thought/reaction FBI agent Clarice Starling, the heroine, had when observing the villain, Dr. Hannibal Lector during one of their encounters:

He's a cemetery mink. He lives down in a ribcage in the dry leaves of a heart.

How deliciously creepy! For all the descriptive passages I read regarding Dr. Lector, this quote made me truly feel the character. I thought of a black mink that had made a home by burrowing into an old grave and setting up home in a cage of rib bones, cushioned by rotting funeral garb. Makes perfect sense to a mink...right? As an analogy to a man though...well, it speaks volumes toward this character's 'creep factor'. But anyone that has read this book or seen the movie already knows 'creep' doesn't begin to describe Lector. One aside: I took a good friend to this movie when it first came out in a local theater. To this day I don't think she's forgiven me.