Wednesday, May 5, 2021

CASTLE WINDOW, PART 2

 



I continued by working on the sunlit area on the right then followed by deepening the shadows contained within the window alcove. There was quite a lot of variation of tones to deal with and also texture created by the rough stonework. The rest of the wall surrounding the window was in deep shadow and it took me 2 tries to get right, having to wait until the paint dried before I could overpaint it all again. I got there in the end though and was happy to leave the painting as it was for now. Size is 14" x 11", oil on canvas.

Friday, April 30, 2021

CASTLE WINDOW, PART 1

 



We explored a number of castles during our trip to Ireland a few years ago and discovered many different aspects of them. In this painting, I wanted to recreate a view looking out of one of the narrow windows high up on the south side. The drawing for this one was (for once) relatively simple and was quickly taken care of which allowed me to proceed onto the painting part which I usually enjoy more. I remember there were tall trees that took up most of the view so I started putting those in laying down thin layers of oil and creating a bit of texture. I then began working on the edges of the window itself trying to capture the idea of sunlight streaming in from the left. I also worked a bit on the rough stonework surrounding the window then put the painting aside for a while to dry having made, I felt a good start.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

PIPING PLOVER

 



During a recent trip to Chincoteague, I was very happy to discover that Piping Plovers had arrived - I found 3 feeding on the same mudflat quite close to each other along with Dunlin and Black-bellied Plovers. I was able to stay and draw them for a while but did this watercolor later when we got back home. They really are diminutive birds but typically plover-like in behavior. And when a Merlin zipped past heading north, all the other waders took off but they amazingly stayed, crouching slightly for a while then they began feeding again. This painting was done on Canson watercolor paper, size is 12" x 8".

Friday, April 23, 2021

THE ANGRY SEA

 



Walking the Atlantic shore in winter is not always the most pleasant thing to do especially when it is wet, windy and cold. Still, there is usually something interesting too see even if there isn't much wildlife around. A passing storm had whipped up the sea so there were whitecaps way out and plenty of foam too. And the breakers were having their tops whipped off in the wind! I tried to capture what I saw and experienced that day in the small watercolor above. Size is 11" x 7.5" - painted on Arches watercolor paper.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

DARK-EYED JUNCO

 


Dark-eyed Juncos are quite common winter visitors around the Eastern Shore where we are staying. The population we see here are 'slate-colored' and are a basic combination of dark grey upperparts and white underparts - the females have some brown on them. Consequently for the artist, they are perfect subjects when using a pencil. During winter, I have had up to 40 Juncos feeding around the house usually in the company of Chipping and Song Sparrows with whom they flock during the colder months. Most have moved northward now that it has warmed up but being so common, I had plenty of chances to draw them as they either fed out front or sat and preened in the small bush outside one of the east-facing windows. These drawings initially started out as quick studies but I did more and more to them as I watched each bird until they were far more detailed than I wanted. Still, this was an enjoyable experience and I suppose that is what really matters. Drawn in my sketchbook, size 12" x 9".

Thursday, April 8, 2021

RESTING WILLET

 



I have been drawing and painting Willets - a medium-sized wader usually found along the coast. We most often see them in a around Chincoteague where there can be quite sizable flocks on some of the tidal ponds. At other times they are dotted along the shoreline either resting, like the sketchbook study I did here, or actively feeding in the surf. They don't quite chase the tide line like sanderlings do but will also feed in shallower water as the tide recedes. This bird is still in its winter plumage although a few new feathers have come in. During spring and summer, they have darker streaks on their breast and sides of belly along with markings on some of their back feathers - I'm looking forward to painting these breeding-plumaged birds.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE

 



I found this Boat-tailed Grackle drinking from a puddle near the ocean at Chincoteague on the Eastern Shore and did some sketches as the bird was present for some time. Later at home, I painted this illustration, trying more than anything to capture the wonderful iridescent plumage of the bird as it appears in direct sunlight. Although not as obvious, the black on the wings and tail also have a subtle reflective sheen that changes due to the direction of the sun but these areas lack the bright iridescence seen on it's body. While following it around, I discovered that they are somewhat large and lanky birds with what seems to be an almost too-small of a head set on top of it's body. This watercolor was done in my sketchbook, size is 9" x 12".

Friday, March 26, 2021

COMMON GRACKLE II

 



Although Common Grackles look black from a distance, close up they show a completely different array of colors. Most mornings, they can be found in the shady area next to the house feeding amongst the early spring flowers where I can get a good look at them. As long as I sit without moving too much, they usually come quite close and I can draw their basic shapes then get down some of the smaller details looking through my binoculars. In this study, I mostly wanted to capture the tones and colors of a grackle without much iridescence showing - this is an adult male in early breeding plumage. Size is 9" x 12", watercolor on Strathmore paper.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

COMMON GRACKLE

 



As their names suggest, Common Grackles are.. well, common - especially around here. They surround the house each morning, feed in the grassy areas nearby and also gather in large flocks out in the bean field opposite us. They have a large communal roost in the marsh behind us so all this means that I see a lot of them. From the top deck I can get really close views of them as they fly into the trees out front and display. Usually there are three or four gathered close to each other and take it in turns to preform calling all the while - quite a racket! They don't seem to bother that I am close by as long as I stay inside so can get lots of sketches and studies done as they go about their daily life. Above is just one of the finished paintings that I have completed trying to capture the lovely iridescence of their plumage as well as their unusual shape and the keel-like tail. Size is 12" x 9", watercolor on Strathmore paper.

Friday, March 19, 2021

NEAR MT RAINIER STUDY

 



I did this study after visiting Seattle and taking a trip out to Mt Rainier. I haven't yet completed any paintings of Mt Rainier itself but I have enjoyed discovering interesting compositions like this one along the way.




Here is the beginning to the painting. When working on small studies like this, I don't do much preliminary work, usually a quick wash drawing is enough to get started and the work develops as I continue painting. Size is 5" x 7", oil on canvas.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

HORSESHOE CRAB STUDY

 


Walking along the shore you are likely to come across all number of things. Occasionally we find horseshoe crabs that are either washed up on their backs or dead like this one. The live ones are turned right side up then gently directed back to the sea. The dead ones I usually draw and in this case paint. Heavy surf probably caused this ones demise as a major storm had passed a day or so before we found it - you can clearly see the broken shell on its left side. Still, I found the underside of the crab with its many claws to be interesting enough to make a painting. This watercolor was done in my sketchbook, size is 9" x 12".

Saturday, March 6, 2021

FADING LIGHT

 



This evening view across the reserve looks north to a distant treeline. When working outdoors, I can usually set up my easel and get everything ready beforehand which allows me a fair bit of time for working on a painting like this before it gets too dark to see. Sometimes I come back the next evening for another session but for this one, I finished it in my studio as I had a pretty good idea what I wanted the final painting to look like. Initially I felt that the underpainting was a bit too dark but I came to realize that it allowed for a better contrast between the land and the sky. This is yet another painting that will be exhibited at McBride Gallery in Annapolis, Maryland. Size is 8" x 10", oil on canvas.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

GUARD SHORE BEACH STUDY

 



Being only a short drive away from where we are staying here on the Eastern Shore, Guard Shore Beach offers an opportunity for walks as well as some relaxed birding. At this time of the year, there's not that much around but we have had good views of Loons (Divers) as well as a selection of ducks and other waterbirds. I have also completed a few paintings of the area and this study was done looking south along the beach. We'll continue to explore this area and see what else turns up as there is always something interesting to see each time we visit. Size of this painting is 5" x 7", oil on canvas.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

CRESTED SNAKE EAGLE

 



I think this is the third or fourth study I have done of this interesting bird. I have always admired the rather subtle plumage and unusually-shaped head, with a crest that to me resembles a cobra. I also prefer doing these kinds of studies in watercolor as although they take a long time to complete, I find I can obtain a better feeling of softness in the feathers than if I were to use any other types of medium. This one is another of my paintings currently showing at McBride Gallery in Annapolis. Size is 14" x 10", watercolor on Arches paper.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

EVENING CLOUDS, PART 4

 



I finally got this one finished! The painting certainly took longer than expected (as is usually the case). I think I struggled a bit with the balance of the foreground grasses and the water. Also getting the tones in this area right took some time too. I really should have done a pre-study first as that would have helped sort out some of the problems that I had to work through. Anyway, this and a few other paintings will be at McBride Gallery in Annapolis, MD soon. Size is 13" x 25" (33cm x 64cm), oil on canvas.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

EVENING CLOUDS, PART 3

 




After adding the darker areas and finishing the trees on the edges of the painting, the water looked a little too light so decided to repaint it. I then had to subtly adjust some of the other parts of the painting too. When I felt there was a better balance between lights and darks, I indicated the areas of grasses in the shallower water on the right and made a start on the tawny-colored grass of the foreground. Hopefully during the next session I'll be able to finish the painting.

Monday, February 1, 2021

EVENING CLOUDS, PART 2

 



Things are progressing slowly with this painting but I think it is heading in the right direction. I'm only managing to work on it from time to time and it seems somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle at this time. Hopefully it will be finished soon as I have so many more paintings to get to!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

EVENING CLOUDS, PART 1

 



The start of a new painting based on my studies done over the past month or so. Here I have laid in the sky keeping it quite simple but offering a series of differing tones and colors in the sky to keep it interesting.




Here is the simple layout for the painting done in a thin raw umber wash laying in the key elements without too much detail. I want this painting to be an open view of the marsh typically seen on so many of my trips around here on the Eastern Shore.


Friday, January 8, 2021

RECENT SKETCHBOOK STUDIES

 



Bald Eagles are common around here with at least one bird seen every day and in late November last year, up to 8 were together at one time! I never tire of them but seldom get any close views - they are usually in flight or perched way off in the distance. My sketches of them have been hesitant and unfinished but I think I captured something of the powerful character of this bird in the above study.



We visited the Mutton Hunk Fen Park for the first time last year (10 mins from us) and I found this unusual barn next to the parking lot. I did this study trying to capture something of the character of the place which had features I have not seen on any other barn. Later, walking around, I found quite a few owl pellets on the ground under the eaves where owls must have rested. I didn't dissect any of them but they usually contain undigestible matter such as fur, bones and feathers etc.



At Chincoteague, herons (and egrets) are common, and with the continued presence of people walking about, many of them become used to you and can be approached without them flying away. This Great Blue Heron was just by the roadside so I was able to get quite a bit done.



This kind of scene is common around here with the land being so flat, water goes everywhere! There are usually plenty of birds to be seen around too (also deer and wild ponies) so there is always plenty to look at. I think I have got some of the best reference I have ever found down here, hopefully all these studies will lead to some finished paintings.