Saturday, October 25, 2008


Quite a bit more work done to this piece concentrating mostly on the rocks and the darker areas of the water. I also worked on the lower reflections ahead of putting in the calm water in the foreground. Since I was working on gesso-primed board, it took a few layers of paint to bring the rocks to a level of completion that I was happy with. I especially enjoyed modelling each rock and creating depth in the shadow areas of the water. Being so clear, you could see all the underwater rocks and it was fun creating a surface to the water using opaque paint as opposed to the translucent layers of Raw Umber and Yellow Ochre that I used for the underwater rocks. I also worked a little on the water in the upper part of the painting, all along deciding on changes that I felt were right for the painting.

Friday, October 24, 2008


I became fascinated by these seemingly random jumble of rocks that I saw during my last trip to Canada. I like the way that the rocks seemed to cascade diagonally across the image. The top of the painting is more agitated with the fast running water which gives way to the hardness of the rocks. These in turn give way to calmer water and submerged rocks before the reflections take over at the bottom of the composition. These by the way are from a large spruce tree situated on the other side of the river. As in most of my paintings, I started at the top and worked down not bothering too much in getting everything perfect right away. I knew that I would be going back to do more work on some areas after the paint dried but felt that I was off to a good start.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Here the finished painting shows how I have continued working with color and tone generally making the bird's head darker and to define feather markings etc. Some careful (but understated) details are been attended to around the eye along with a subtle wash of pale yellow over the beak and around the gape. I kept the rest of the bird faded out so that the emphasis would be solely on the head. Some careful lifting of color brought out highlights and feather detail where needed. Red-tailed Hawks are quite variable ranging from quite dark birds in the Southwest to pale birds in the North. This particularly handsome bird is a medium plumaged individual and I have painted quite a number of studied of him. The final work is 71/2" X 11".


Here I have done a bit more work to the areas around the eye and beak and am almost finished with that. I have also started to work on the nape and shoulder area although the latter will be understated. At this time , it is a case of slowly defining details and bringing the tones up to where I want them. Mostly thin washes are applied and when I am happy with one area, moving onto the next. I spend quite a bit of time just looking at the painting working out in my mind what needs to be done bearing in mind the desire not to overwork the piece.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Here I have continued modelling the bird working mostly all over at the same time. A series of thin washes has brought me up to this point with darker detailed areas such as the eye and beak done with a finer brush. I'm happy with the way the painting is going even in this rough stage as in the past I would usually work on one area such as the eye until it was finished. I sometimes felt that I was otherwise loosing control of the work unless I could see that at least some part of the painting was working as I intended. Now I know that I can bring it all together in the end so don't have to worry about areas that aren't quite as I would like them to be. Most of the washes so far have comprised of Raw Umber and a little Burnt Sienna with some Cobalt on the beak. I have further modelled the eye using Burnt Umber and darkened the pupil and surround with Neutral Tint. Still a way to go but a good start so far.


While painting in the field during my last trip, I was trying to be aware of the local wildlife while I worked listening for bird song and keeping an eye out for any flyovers. I did manage to see a number of new species for me this time but also enjoyed re-acquainting myself with those birds on the West coast that I am not so familiar with. Disappointing was that most of the thrushes had stopped singing and were rather thin on the ground. Apart from the odd Kestrel and a few Bald Eagles, most of the raptors I saw were Red-tailed Hawks. Which got me thinking that I hadn't painted any birds recently so when things were running smoothly back in the studio again, I started on this portrait. Here I have washed in a background colour of Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre and Sepia on smooth Arches w/c paper. When dry, I made a careful drawing of the bird then started modeling form using light washes of Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue. The darker areas were dropped in using washes of Sepia.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


This small study was completed while spending a rainy day outside. This trip had a number of such days and while heavy rain kept me indoors, I was outside the rest of the time. Studies such as these are useful particularly in getting a better idea about ideas and for deciding exactly what I want to say. Here the distant mountains were partially obscured by low-lying clouds bringing focus to the mid-ground trees so the hardest edges were formed here. I have some ideas for a larger paintings of this scene and time will tell how these work out. As in the previous painting, the size is 6" X 8".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


It seems like ages since I last updated my blog. That's probably because it has been - ages I mean. Now that I am back from my latest Canada trip, I have finally established a regular presence in my studio again. This will I'm sure lead to more regular postings. During the trip and since my return, I have been busy completing studies and also working on new paintings inspired by some of the things I have seen. Morning mist at Lower Hamilton was from a walk taken on the first morning after my arrival. The slightly cooler weather brought many such misty mornings and was a delight to me as I travelled around recording what I saw. This scene has led to a series of paintings, more of which I will share later on. The colors and light that particular morning were amazing as the sun rose through the mist which slowly thickened as I stood observing and painting. So much so that these trees shown in this study almost completely disappeared. This oil is 6" X 8".