Thursday, April 30, 2020


I realized that the rocks would need quite a bit of work and because of the busy foreground, I kept the sky simple. I slowly added tones and color to each rock working from the middle-ground forwards as needed then put in a few washes to darken the sand. There was also some green patches on the closer rocks so these areas were done at the same time. The main rock in the middle was darkened and this helped set the overall tone.


I could have spent ages exploring the coastline of the Algarve in Portugal. Although our visits were in Winter, the weather was non the less wonderful and we came across some of the most amazing beaches I have ever seen. In the scene above, I had walked away from the main beach and turned to look back from where I had come when I saw this scene. The littered rocks of the foreground led my eye into the scene then onto the distant sea and headland. I knew there and then I wanted to do a painting of this view so after a few brief sketches, I started a watercolor. In the work so far, I have been trying to establish some of the base tones of the painting which will need quite a bit of darkening as I go along.

Monday, April 20, 2020


Well, I'm about finished with this one. There is a slight difference in tone between the previous stage in the earlier post and the finished painting. I decided that the base tone of the bird was too light and a bit dull so I washed another layer of pale yellow over the whole sheet. This had to be done very carefully so as not to disturb the paint already laid down and cause any smudging. When that had dried overnight, it was simply a case of carefully applying the many markings of the plumage and building up the tones until I was happy with the result. I think the painting works as is and I probably won't do much else to it. In reflection, I think it is one of my stronger Gryfalcon paintings and I am happy to finally finish it after so many hours of work. This watercolor was painted on smooth Arches paper, size is about 12" x 9" (30cm x 20cm).

Friday, April 17, 2020


Well, quite a bit of work has been done to this painting so far. I was enjoying working on this bird so much that I forgot to stop and take more in-progress shots! Here I have almost finished the head and am starting to do the darker markings of the breast. I used a dull orangish-yellow for the background and this has also become the bird's base plumage color. All the markings were laid on top of this and although there isn't much color to this bird, I think I am getting the important bits down in a way that is pleasing to me. The cere already has that Arctic blue color and is exciting in that for me, it points to the lineage of this bird. I'm happy with it so far but still quite a long way to go.


I did mention awhile ago that I would be getting back to painting landscapes but I have been enjoying doing these bird studies so much that I decided to start a new one! Like the previous two studies, this bird also belonged to a falconer. I was told that the parents of this 1st year gyrfalcon were both pure white (Arctic) gyrfalcons and that in the following year, this bird would also moult into a white plumage. That was enough for me and although I have yet to see (and paint) an Arctic gyrfalcon, I was more than happy to make studies of this bird at the time for a painting later on. Well fast forward more than a few years and here is my first proper study of this magnificent bird. The initial drawing (using a HB pencil) was first done on smooth (hot-pressed) Arches watercolor paper.

Thursday, April 9, 2020


Managed to do some more work on this painting and am now about finished. I darkened some areas of the background to slightly lift the bird off the paper then worked on the breast and belly feathers. Lastly, I laid on some washes over the wing and subtly darkened the head and throat. A few more touch-ups here and there then I laid it aside. I'll leave it for awhile then come back to it in about a week or so with a fresh eye and see if it needs any more work. I painted this watercolor on smooth (hot-pressed) Arches paper, size is about 14" x 10" (36cm x 26cm).

Monday, April 6, 2020


Not too much progress from before but I have been taking it slowly regarding the modelling of the birds' head as there are some delicate whitish markings around the eye and beak that I want to get right. Since I don't use opaque white in my watercolors, I carefully paint around the lighter areas and all this takes time. I have also started adding the marking on the sides of the throat and the shadow under the bill. At this point, I'm unsure how much further I want to take the painting so I'll put it aside for a day or two and come back to it later.


I came across this bird recently at a falconry meet and as it wasn't a species that I am familiar with, I wanted to do some studies and portraits of it. I have seen the similar Jackal Buzzard numerous times in South Africa but as the range of the Augur Buzzard is further North, I haven't yet added it to my world bird list. Anyway, I initially thought the bird was rather splendid so armed with previous sketches and quick studies, began work on this one. I started the study the same way I do all my studies of raptors; a detailed pencil drawing, washes to establish the background color and tone, the eyes, then the bill followed by the head and body. Usually I bring each component to it's finished state before going on the the next area - here the eyes are about finished while the bill will still need a bit of work. I have also put down a few light washes on the head and nape. So far, so good.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020


After a few more layers of burnt sienna on the back and shoulder, I finished up that area by darkening some of the feathers that had dark centers then moved down to the lower wing. I later noticed the curve of the bird's right eye wasn't quite correct so I fixed that next. With a few more touch-ups here and there, I considered the painting complete. I'll leave it still stretched on the board for a few more days to see if there is anything more I want to do but I don't want to overwork it. I want this one to look like a painting, not a photograph so have left some areas unfinished. I struggled with the paper a bit as apart from the sheet being a few years old, the surface was rougher than I usually use for my bird studies. Size is 15" x 11" (38cm x 28cm), watercolor on Whatman paper.