Saturday, May 30, 2020


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).

Sunday, May 24, 2020


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).

Thursday, May 21, 2020


These trees are one of my favorite with their unusual bark and majestic form. This tree has lost a limb from the one side, probably during an ice storm. Some storms over here have been known to fell whole trees when the ice gets really thick, a sudden loud crash and the tree is down! This one though still stands and the resultant hole will be used for nesting birds or perhaps a grey squirrel, This feature was something I wanted to include in the painting but the main attraction though was sunlight on the bark and the resulting shadows from all the branches. So far I'm trying to establish a sense of light and shadow then once I have that down, I'll finish the mottling of the bark and the other branches.

Friday, May 15, 2020


To finish off, I worked on some areas of the water first then finished the reflections and darkened the wavelets slightly. Completing the stumps themselves was a case of taking my time with a fine brush and slowly painting around the remaining leaves before adding the stems. Done! A somewhat simple watercolor but does capture these lone stumps in shallow water just the way I had envisioned. Size is 11" x 7.5" (28cm x 19cm).

Thursday, May 14, 2020


I felt that the overall tone of the painting was a little light so I added another thin greyish-blue wash overall then let that dry. Working on the willow leaves first, I mixed Hookers Green Dark with a lot of yellow to get a pale green. Hookers Green has to be my least favorite color and I hardly ever use it - the tube I have is well over 10 years old and there is still plenty left! Since this color is a heavily staining one, I was careful where I applied the green leaves as I knew once down, no amount of scrubbing would get the green off again! The darker areas of the stumps were then carefully painted around each willow leaf then darkened where necessary. Using mostly Raw Sienna, I did more work to the reflections darkening and refining them a bit.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020


I saw these willow stumps in shallow water down at the lake. The beavers had been at them and severely stunted their growth. I liked the way that small wavelets lapped against the shore and created abstract patterns in the reflections so started this watercolor to try and capture the scene as I had seen it. To begin, I laid in a greyish-blue wash overall into which I added wave shapes while the paper was still wet. This has to be timed right - too wet and the shapes go too fuzzy, too dry and there are hard edges - timing is the key! When the paper had dried, I added the first layer of reflections - just feeling my way along so far.

Thursday, May 7, 2020


To finish off, I added some soft-edged clouds in the sky to create a little movement but was careful not to overdo it as I felt the foreground was quite busy enough. The rocks were completed and I also added a little detail to the sand and darkened those areas too. Then it was a case of slowly going over the painting adding and correcting here and there until I was happy with the finished look. I liked the view through the V shape between the two middle-distance rocks to the distant headland. Earlier I had explored this area and found some very interesting rock formations that may become the subject of a future painting. The main rock in the middle of the painting reminds me of one of the giant head sculptures found on Easter Island. With its grim mouth and crumbly nose, I felt it was an interesting focal point for my painting. Size is 11" x 15" (28cm x 38cm). Watercolor on rough Arches paper.