Working on our extensive home project makeover this month has left me with little time for painting but I did manage to work on this small oil. This study was re-worked a little, darkening some areas and adding smaller details here and there. I think it's closer to the image I had in my head when I started the work some time ago. The image came from an early morning walk in the nearby reserve as I watched the sun come up on a cool and slightly cloudy day. Size is 7" x 5", oil on canvas.
I saw this female Ebony Jewelwing near the upper lake in the nearby reserve. As damselflies go, they are quite large and striking! Especially the female which has small white marks on the fore-tips of each wing. A male was spotted nearby. He is dressed all in black without the white spots but makes up for it by having an incredibly vivid body, head and thorax. Mostly the shiny color is a metallic green but also seems blueish at times - looks magnificent in direct sunlight (I'll paint him next). Ebony Jewelwings have also seen in our garden - perhaps they hatch from our pond along with the other species of damsel and dragonflies there. The female painted above had only 4 legs!
I found this Zabulon Skipper in the reserve resting on Blackberry blossom. I am slowly learning about and identifying American butterflies and moths to further my work on fauna and flora in the nearby reserve. This male sat for some time without moving so I was able to do some quick sketches and take a few phone pics which I could hopefully use later for details. Usually small butterflies don't settle for long so I was lucky to have so much time with this one. For butterflies, I have found it best to just hang around a favorite nectar feeding site and see what arrives rather than actively looking all over the place. Below are the various stages of the painting.
Walking the nearby reserve almost daily through spring into early summer has revealed the incessant march of nature. With so much rain early this year, plants have grown quickly despite the cooler weather. The once bare field are now awash in grasses, brambles and flowers. This continued observation and note taking has allowed me to better understand the growth cycles of plants as well as which birds, animals and insects are seen in each month. Some of these I have drawn and painted in my sketchbooks as the mood takes me and I'll post some of them here on my blog. I'm trying to cover a wide range of fauna as well as flora to better understand this small area of land that I visit so often.
I often do these small studies in my sketchbooks - sometimes in black and white but usually in color as shown here. For me, they are a way of working out composition and color as well as giving an overall look of what a future painting could look like. I try not to put too much work into them as I want to save that for the actual painting, instead just concentrate on getting down the basics without much detail. When looking for inspiration, I can go through them and pick out something I want to paint as opposed to just sitting there and thinking 'what do I want to work on next'.
Double-crested Cormorants migrate through here each spring and I see them on the lakes in the nearby reserve where they feed and rest for a few days before moving on. It gives me a good chance to make field drawings of them in my sketchbooks so having done a number of them, I decided to use what I had collected so far and do a watercolor painting. As usual, a careful drawing was completed first then quite a few washes of color were added slowly building up the tone until I was happy with the finished result. These birds have wonderful emerald-colored eyes and to get this right, I used washes of heavily thinned Windsor Green.
The initial drawing was done with a pencil I picked up from the roadside when out for a walk one day. I found to my delight that it has a nice soft lead inside which suits the kind of work I do and I have it specially marked for later use. The paper is from Strathmore - not the best I have used but not bad either. Size is 10" x 8" (28cm x 20cm).
After quite a bit of back and forth, the painting was complete. Since I had most of the difficulties behind me now that the first pass of paint had gone on, I just had to buckle down and keep working on it! Quite a bit of time was spent simply looking at the image and deciding which bit needed to be darker, which bit needed a little more detail etc. The shadows were dropped in last of all and I finally considered it finished. Watercolor on Arches paper, 11" x 7.5" (28cm x 19cm).
I am an artist living and working near Washington DC in the USA. I was born in the UK but have lived abroad most of my life. I paint mostly landscapes and birds but have many interests so you never know what will turn up. Most of the paintings shown here are for sale so please contact me at jeremypearse (at) gmail.com if interested. Thanks for visiting!