Monday, April 17, 2017


During a recent trip to South Africa I managed to find some time to do quite a number of sketches and watercolors. Most of these were in my sketchbook but I have to say that after such an amazing trip, (during which I lost count of the number of photos I took), I think that I have enough reference now for a few years worth of work! So I'm sure a lot of these sketchbook studies will translate into larger oil or watercolor paintings at a later date. I also painted a few landscapes and will re-visit these when I have finished my current project.

Birds featured prominently although I did sketch and paint a few larger animals including elephant and hippo. We traveled around quite a bit visiting Kruger Park for a few days and also spent some time at Giants Castle (more about these trips later). Also a few shorter day-trips were undertaken and the bird count continued to rise - with a few welcome 'lifers' too.

Studies shown above - African Jacana and Lily Pads, watercolor; Southern (or Common) Fiscal (unfinished), watercolor; African Jacana study, graphite.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


As far as snow goes, this has been a milder winter than usual with no major snow storms. It has been cold though and spring has taken a while to arrive. Warm fronts from the South usually brings a more moist atmosphere and sometimes this combination results in mist. I am always over in the reserve when this happens looking, sketching and when the temps are mild, painting. This smaller study didn't take long so was able to mostly complete it in one go. I did a few small touch-ups later when the paint had dried a little but basically left it as it was. Size is 7" x 5". Oil on canvas.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Quite a few glazes of color were required to bring the painting to its finished state. I mostly used Raw Sienna and Yellow Ochre for these with a little Burnt Sienna for the decaying branch. I slightly deepened the small areas of green and worked a little on the pomegranate. It also got a cast shadow across the middle which helped define the form. Some of the darker shadow areas were also worked on, trying all the while to get an overall feeling of uniformity. Within the leaves is a feeling of depth, light and shade, and I tried hard to keep the painting bright without resorting to any gouache.

Monday, March 27, 2017


After a few sessions, I managed to complete most of the shadow areas. I'll still have to go back and darken a few parts and also add a little more of the finer details. Since most of the painting will be shades of ochre and brown, I add in a complimentary green to a few places - namely the two leaves at the top and a few blades of grass on the right. Keeping these colors to the periphery helps against too much visual distraction - I don't want too many things competing with each other. These greens are also somewhat subdued. The fallen branch with the shadow on the top right makes an appearance but I'll still have to darken it a bit. Next I'll glaze warmer tones all over the painting - what you see here is basically the underpainting so expect to see a dramatic change from this to the next!

Saturday, March 25, 2017


At this point, I have enough information on the leaves to be able to leave them for awhile. I decide to work on the pomegranate itself so it was just a case of laying on washes of color, then glazing over those when they were dry. After a few rounds of this, I felt I was getting close so left that for awhile and started deepening some of the shadow areas. I often work like this - that is trying to get an all-over feel as I find it better to bring things together as a whole rather than completing one section then going on to the next one. Doing it this way seems to be easier for me, especially as to how the painting is developing.
Most of the left side of the work has been completed in the pic above (at least as far as the values are concerned). Next I'll bring the right side up to the same level as the left then add more color.

Friday, March 24, 2017


Working all over, I lay in most of the shadows - this does take quite some time though as I have to work out which parts are lit by the sun and which parts fall into shadow. Now though, at least I can get a better idea of the painting and how it is progressing. I'll still have to deepen the tone further on most of the darker areas but for now I have a definite way forward. It still looks quite abstract at this stage but soon leaves, stems and the pomegranate will start to appear.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Here I have tentatively started laying on some sepia watercolor paint indicating the shadow areas and trying to get form into some of the leaves. I'm a bit hesitant at this point and progressing really slowly as I'm not sure how the best way to do this! Should I do all the monochromatic shadows first or go with shapes and color? I add a warmer wash of color to some areas trying to see how this would affect the overall feel but I'm leaning towards doing all the shadow areas first. Because there is so much detail, hopefully doing it this way will help simplify things and allow me to work out what goes where.