Thursday, June 30, 2022

FALLING INTO NIGHT

 



I think with this painting, I have come full circle with the urban series that I have been working on of late. It started with dawn views across the harbor, then windows and walls in sunlight, now I have focused in on the ending of the day with scenes like this and darker nocturnes that are still works in progress. This painting is an acrylic on Strathmore paper, size is 11 x 15 inches.

Monday, June 27, 2022

PEREGRINE FALCONS AT DUSK


 

The shrill 'rek rek rek' calls of a peregrine came from behind me as I stood in the falling light watching the sunset. I turned to see two peregrines in the air, one chasing the other and calling all the while - I guessed that the aggressor was chasing the other bird from its territory and stooped on it a few times. It then turned and came back towards me passing quickly overhead and was soon lost to the darkness. I made a few quick initial studies in my sketchbook trying to remember what I had seen and later did the above watercolor with the intention of capturing the encounter with this bird - one of my favorite falcons.














The quick sketchbook studies shown above are all about 4 x 4 inches. The Peregrine At Dusk painting is 11 x 7.5 inches, watercolor on Arches paper.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

DEEKAY'S BROWN SNAKE

 



This is I believe, a young Deekay's Brown Snake (apparently they are somewhat difficult to identify). Usually the snakes I see quickly disappear but for some reason, this one just lay there in a half-coiled pose which allowed me to get some great reference. The drawing was done in my sketchbook then finished when I got home adding washes of color but keeping the illustration rather simple. Lately I have been working on these types of paintings and illustrations for a future project - I'm now up to number 87! I think that I'm over the half way mark but not sure how many will be used until I get closer to 150. I think that seeing them all laid out in front of me will help too. Hopefully the final 60 will come a little quicker as now I can finally see everything coming together.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

SPIDER CRAB

 



We found this crab along the shoreline and since it wasn't moving about very much, managed to get some real close ups. At times like this, I usually lie in the sand to draw. Compared to other crabs, Spider Crabs aren't much to look at - in fact they are perhaps a bit frightening! I got talking to a crabber emptying his crab pots some time ago and he mentioned that he always threw these ones back as they tasted rather nasty!

Monday, May 30, 2022

GREAT BLUE HERON

 


I spent some time watching this Great Blue Heron stalking the water around Swan Cove Pool, Chincoteague NWR. Being winter, the somewhat grey day didn't do much for the bird's plumage but I liked the interesting interplay between the tones and colors of the water and that of the bird. The heron was occasionally catching small fish but eventually flew away to try it's luck somewhere else. The drawings I did in the field later translated into this painting. Size is 12 x 9 inches, watercolor on Grumbacher paper.

Friday, May 27, 2022

EVENING LIGHT II

 



A recent commissioned painting. I tried to keep the mood calm and tranquil relying on soft slightly blended colors without any harsh edges. Size is 18 x 18 inches, oil on canvas.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

OSPREY AT DAWN

 



During most of our stay near the harbor, I would wake early and go down to the nearby boat dock both to see what was about and also to greet the new day. One morning just as dawn arrived, an Osprey flew past with a medium-sized fish in its talons. The image stayed with me so recently I did this small painting and tried to capture that encounter.




When I had finished the Osprey watercolor, I did this drawing of another Osprey carrying nesting material remembering a bird I saw in southern Virginia. It had calmly swooped down and scooped up a talon-full of dried grass that had washed up on the shoreline totally ignoring the sunbathers and beach walkers that were all about! Both these works are sized about 12 x 9 inches.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

OLD PLOUGH

 



During my walks around the countryside and parks, I often come across all kinds of unusual things -  these two old ploughs being some of my more interesting finds. I did these two studies one after the other finding wonderful textures and trying to capture the different structures of each one.




I have no idea of the age of these but am thankful to whoever had kept them in their collection. Both paintings done in my sketchbook, each about 6 x 9 inches.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

COMMON TERN

 



Terns in their breeding plumage are looking spectacular at this time of the year in their grey and white tones with black caps and bright beaks. I have wanted to do this painting for some time and finally finished it a few days ago. Size is 12 x 9 inches, watercolor on Grumbacher paper.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

HEAVY SURF

 


I like to walk the beaches after a heavy storm. All kinds of things are washed up on the shore and the wind is usually still strong and blustery. I love these bracing conditions with the pounding surf  and atmospheric skies. The waves can be incredible and this is what I tried to capture in the small watercolor shown here. Size is 11 x 7.5 inches.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

LANNER FALCON

 



I have been working on this Lanner Falcon study from a bird I saw in South Africa. It has taken some time to get the painting to this stage and I'm hoping one more session will see it finished. Watercolor on Canson Matboard. Size is about 9 x 7 inches.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

HEERMANN'S GULL, FIRST RECORD FOR MARYLAND!

 


On March 31st, I was looking out of my studio window when I saw a dark bird in flight with about 15 or so Ring-billed Gulls. It was quite far away on the other side of the harbor - through my binoculars, I watched it for about a min until it disappeared. The next day, we crossed the harbor on the ferry and I again saw the bird hanging around Pier 5. After returning with all my gear a bit later, I re-found the bird nearby at around 2:00pm. I made sure I took plenty of notes then some field sketches were done and many photos taken. On returning home, I confirmed the bird was a young Heermann's Gull. This bird is usually found along the pacific coast. While there is some debate as to it's actual age, I initially thought it was a first winter/summer bird but it may be a 2nd winter as some adult inner secondaries are coming through. Anyway, I contacted the secretary of the Maryland Ornithological Society and the word was put out. Fortunately the bird was not hard to find and many observers saw it on the 31st and also over the weekend. This will be the first accepted record for the state of Maryland.

I did the head study shown above shortly after discovering the bird - watercolor on Grumbacher paper, size is about 5 x 7 inches.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

CANADA GEESE STUDIES

 


A short time ago, I came across a flock of Canada Geese feeding next to the path so settled down nearby. Soon some of them came so close I could actually reach out and touch them. I was able to get extraordinary views of these birds and spent some time sketching and drawing different individuals. Being in full sun, I was most interested in the effects of light and shadow, and how the highlights showed on their heads. Relying mostly on my sketches and studies, I completed this sheet when I got back home - I'll probably do more when I get the chance. Size is 12 x 9 inches, watercolor on Grumbacher paper.




Friday, March 25, 2022

SUMMER LANDSCAPE II, STUDY

 



I did this landscape study for a commission arranged through Berkley Gallery. I often feel the need to do small studies such as this one both for the client's peace of mind, and for my own! They also help to bring together all the ideas (and hopes) that I have for the final painting. Although I seldom make an exact copy of any of these studies, they work well as a starting point. Size is 5 x 7 inches, oil on canvas.

Monday, March 21, 2022

NOVEMBER 4th

 





One of my favorite pastimes is exploring old places and discovering something new. I have spent many hours walking through ruins and other old buildings trying to absorb the atmosphere of times gone by. I came across this scene inside an abandoned house many years ago while hiking in Hong Kong - the old basket had seen years of use and was now falling apart. In the dim light of the interior, it somehow took on a different meaning for me as I thought about the people who must have lived there. Size of this painting is 14 x 11 inches, acrylic on board.

Monday, March 14, 2022

ROYAL TERN

 



This Royal Tern was resting and preening in amongst other birds seen at the beach mentioned in my last post. My sketches and studies of it were looser than the Forster's Terns but one of my studies managed to capture a more interesting view so when I got home, I started this watercolor. I wanted the bird standing in very shallow water just on the edge of the sand with wavelets forming as the tide slowly came in. I worked hard to capture this idea putting down many washes and building up the tones until I was happy with the result. A few bits of sea foam completed the painting. Size is 12 x 9 inches.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

FORSTER'S TERNS

 


I noticed a flock of birds on the beach just above the waterline so slowly made my way towards them. Eventually I managed to get close enough that I was almost surrounded by birds then settled down so that I could study them. I chose Forster's Terns for my first watercolor paintings doing these in my sketchbook.




They were about 20 or so Forster's along with 2 Royal Terns, quite a number of Laughing Gulls and also lesser numbers of Ring-billed Gulls. Two Rock Doves also sat nearby. To start with, I washed in a simple background then tried to capture the overall shapes of the terns before adding any details (the lower bird had reddish legs for example where most of the other birds legs were black). Both these studies done on Grumbacher paper, size about 6 x 9 inches each.


Monday, February 28, 2022

MORNING SNOW STUDY

 


Heavy snow has fallen in the reserve and turned each bush into a snow sculpture. I love times like this when I can explore the landscape - everything seems fresh and new. Size of this study is 7 x 5 inches, oil on canvas.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

WINDOW SERIES III

 


The third in the window series and the one that I spent to most time on. I moved in a little closer for this painting choosing an upper-story window in direct sunlight which allowed me to see a little of the interior. The bricks are a little darker than in the Library Window painting that I did earlier and using the same technique, I loosely indicated the brickwork then began working on the interior. Most of what I could see indicated that this was a storeroom of sorts as there was quite a bit of piled up stuff inside. The half-opened blind took longer than expected (actually the whole painting did) but eventually after many washes of color building up the tones and textures over the whole work, the painting was finished. Size is 15 x 11 inches, acrylic on Strathmore paper.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

WINDOW SERIES II

 


This painted brick building stood out from all the rest having been done in a light green paint that had become textured and faded over the years. There was also a lot of cracked and peeling paint on the ornate cornice as well so once again I picked up my acrylics and after a detailed drawing, set to work! I had a lot of fun with this one trying to capture the overall feel of the place without adding too many details. As in the first of this window series, I tried giving an impression of all the brickwork without painting each one, then adding some texture here and there until I was happy with the result. Size is 15 x 11 inches, acrylic on Strathmore paper.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

WINDOW SERIES I

 



This old library window is one of three facing a street we often walk along. The morning sun created interesting areas of light and shadow, and this was the initial attraction for me so I began thinking about trying to capture the scene in paint. My quick on-site drawing seemed to work so when I got back home, I pulled out an old sheet of watercolor paper and after a quick basic drawing, just slapped on the paint trying to create an impression of brickwork without painting every single brick. The window I took a little more time on, building up washes of color and tones until I was happy with the results. I'll probably continue with this idea and do a series of paintings of windows and doors as I often walk the backstreets looking for images such as this - I have quite a few more ideas. Size of this one is 15 x 11 inches, acrylic on Strathmore paper.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

MORNING LIGHT, ALASKA

 


Another study of mountains seen during our Alaska trip. I'm still exploring the theme and have a few more that I would like to do. Other than finishing this painting, I have been mostly working on commissions so not much chance to do any more personal work. I have almost finished the last one though so will be back to my usual schedule soon. This painting is an oil on canvas. Size - 8 x 10 inches.

Monday, January 31, 2022

HOPELAND EVENING

 



I recently completed this commissioned painting. The scene is of a quiet tidal marsh near where we were staying last winter. I just happened on the place which I found while exploring a wooded area near where we walked most evenings and immediately set about doing studies of the area. What I liked most about this place was that it was surrounded by trees and there were no signs of any habitation at all. Clapper rails called nearby along with Greater Yellowlegs a bit further away, and a Belted Kingfisher made this river its home. Some evenings we would hear the hooting of a Great Horned Owl over by the other side on the marsh and resident Bald Eagles perched in their favorite tree overlooking the estuary - magic!

Sunday, January 23, 2022

RED-TAILED HAWK PORTRAIT

 



I found this dark-phase Red-tailed Hawk at our local wildlife rehab center where I often went to see what had been dropped off. Since this bird was outside in a large cage, I did some studies from life then later did this portrait at home. Size is 8 x 10 inches (20 x 25cm), oil on board.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

EAGLE OWL

 



I have seen a number of European Eagle Owls in the wild but the details of this bird came from a raptor rehab center where I was able to get up close. My usual studies were first completed in my sketch book directly from life (both in pencil and watercolor)  which ran to two or so pages, then I later did this head study. I was trying to capture something of the intensity that these large birds exude along with the softness of their feathers. Size is 6 x 9 inches (15 x 23cm), watercolor on Grumbacher paper.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

BARNACLES

 



During a very low tide at Guard Shore Beach in Virginia, I found these remnants of what was probably a jetty of sorts, covered in barnacles. I did as much drawing as I could in my sketchbook before the tide came in again, then finished the rest at home laying in washes and adding some final details right at the end. Size is about 6" x 9", watercolor on Grumbacher paper,

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

RING-BILLED GULL

 






In this painting, I wanted to capture the feeling of a bright and warm sunny day along the shore so I kept the values quite light except for the bird's shadow. I started by painting the background waves in a loose and free manner trying for movement and color more than anything else. The gull was also painted in a somewhat loose way aiming for form without getting too caught up in the details. The warm reflected light on the belly of the gull was as important as getting the structure of the bird right then some smaller details were added last of all. The foreground was finished off with just a few indications of broken shells etc. Size is 12" x 9", watercolor on Grumbacher paper.