Monday, March 31, 2014


And finally here is the completed painting. Not that much different from where I left off last time but there have been some remaining feathers of the lower wing lightly stated along with a subtle deepening of the burnt sienna tones of the upper wing and back. I added the fine hair-like feathers between the eye and the beak and tidied up some of the smaller feather markings here and there. Not a lot really but this attention to detail is important to me and brought the painting to its final stage. With most of the detail concentrated around the head, ones focus goes there first but I think there it still enough of the rest of the bird to explain it's unusual name and the fading out of the ferruginous color keeps that from dominating the painting - this was what I had in my mind for the portrait when I first conceived of the piece. Ferruginous Hawk is in watercolor on Bainbridge rag matboard. Size is 8" x 12" (20cm x 30.5cm).

Sunday, March 30, 2014


More work done to the wing and back along with some defining of the markings around the cheek and nape. I also darkened the yellow around the bill and eye-ring hoping for some slightly better definition of these parts. Some thin washes under the chin help define the throat along with some very fine streaked markings there. The image here is a little lighter than the others - actually closer to the original painting but I can see even at this point that there will have to be a subtle darkening of some of the values. I don't think there is much left to do at this point, a little more work here and there along with some final details right at the end.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Here I have started laying in washes of burnt sienna to represent the ferruginous color of the back and wing coverts - very exciting! I have also put in some of the darker feathers on the back and started to indicate some of the fine markings of the breast feathers. More work was done to the head, cheek and lores of the bird trying to get a feel for this bird as well as capturing some of the particular characteristics of this species. I also darken the iris slightly. At this point I'm happy that the body is taking on a round shape and seems to have form as well as substance.


As is my usual working style, I started painting with the point of most interest - in this case the eye - laying down thin washes of color until I had built up what I thought was a good representation of the eye. This was followed with local color surrounding the area and on the crown of the bird. Pale yellow for the cere, eye-ring and the gape (which is quite extensive on this buteo) was brushed on. The bill I took extra care with as this area really gives character to a bird, so many thin washes and small dots of color were added until I thought I had it about right. At this point, I wasn't trying to finish any particular part as that would come closer to the end when I could judge the balance of tones a little easier. In part 3 I'll be working on the areas that give this bird its name!

Friday, March 28, 2014


I recently started this painting after realizing just how beautiful these hawks are. Quickly grabbing a piece of matboard (because I couldn't find any of my smooth watercolor paper) and over the course of an afternoon, I slowly and carefully drew in the bird paying special attention to the proportions of the head, bill and eye. The complex patterns of the back and wing coverts took some time to understand so I was extra careful there. A pale warm greyish wash followed and was allowed to dry before adding on any details. Next I'll start laying in some color concentrating mostly around the head.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


A few years ago, we drove down from San Francisco along the coast to Carmel stopping at a few different places along the way. Spectacular doesn't really sum up the incredible views seen looking along the shore and out to sea. I managed to do a few sketches while on that trip planning to do a whole series of paintings once I got back to the studio but other paintings and projects took me away from that idea. Lately, since I still can't stand for long, I am doing a lot of watercolors which are usually done sat at a working table. This small study was one of them - usually I would do this kind of thing in oils and as time goes by and I am able to work at the easel for longer periods, I may do a larger version of this. Here I was simply trying to catch the warmth of the sun on the rocky coastline and the spray from a breaking wave. Size is 5" x 7", watercolor on Fabriano paper.

Monday, March 10, 2014


I recently completed this portrait of an Eastern Buzzard (a race of the Common Buzzard). The bird had been cared for by the late Jim Ades in Hong Kong prior to its release so I was able to do quite a large series of sketches and drawings along with taking a few pics - all were helpful in creating this painting. As is my usual practice, a careful drawing was followed by washes of brown and yellow to build up the background tones. When this had dried, I started with the head then as this began to come to completion, followed with the underparts and wing. I left the painting for quite some time and when I came back to it, I could see that there were only a few areas that needed attention before I could call it finished. Mostly this was a case of darkening some of the markings on the nape and breast followed by some smaller details around the eye. Size is 11" x 15", watercolor on Arches paper.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


When I looked out the kitchen window it was just sitting there in the morning sun, a young Sharp-shinned Hawk. Usually they don't stay around long so I wondered as I ran to get my telescope, would it still be there when I got back. Fortunately it was and actually sat looking around for over 10 mins - long enough for me to do some sketches and take some really bad pics through the telescope. Later I started this watercolor intending to do a slightly different background with snow - but that didn't work out so I just added the leaves and branches that it was sitting on. I struggled with the Canson watercolor paper it is painted on so will keep my supply for smaller works. Perhaps this study will be the beginnings of an oil painting - will have to wait and see. Size is 15" x 11".