Thursday, February 23, 2012

Long time, no blog... but I'm back!

Its been a long couple of weeks, including the half term break - lots has happened, and thankfully, quite a bit of drawing and painting has been done too!

The first set of paintings I played with were all of the same bird - The Gyrlin. I drew the bird 3 times - firstly onto a canvas which already had a background in place. Now with the bird in position, I will be able to develop the whole image further, by accentuating the bird in the foreground and knocking back the background to make it hazy in the distance.

Gyrlin over sand dunes - Acrylic

Secondly, I re-drew the same image and painted it again, in acrylic paint on paper. I was interested to see how different the result would be on a different surface. 

Gyrlin 2 Acrylic

To push this experiment further still, I drew the same bird again - this time onto thick water colour paper. What has surprised me the most, is  that using different mediums on a variety of surfaces, the birds have come out almost identical! In all 3 paintings, it is just the first layer and they all need developing (however, the latter 2 might just stay as they are!) I enjoyed painting the same image over again - each time, I became more familiar with the shape and form of the bird...after all, it is the beautiful shape made by the wings in flight that inspired me to paint this in the first place!

Gyrlin 3 - Watercolour

Yesterday, I was in the mood to draw an owl. This European Eagle Owl is resident at the Screech Owl Sanctuary in Cornwall. I've discovered that I really enjoy the flow and 'looseness' of watercolour for painting owls...I start with the eye and the beak which I like to be accurate and precise, then move on to the fluffy feathers using much free-er brush strokes.

Eagle Owl - Watercolour
Happy with my owl, I just had to have another go at Rogue, the Gyrlin. She is such a stunning bird, especially in flight, I love the shapes and angles her body contorts into as she powers through the air, twisting and turning on a sixpence!

Gyrlin, watercolour.

Today's venture into the paint box took me back to the owls... Here we have two British species, the Tawny Owl and the Barn Owl...both SO cute, you could snuggle up for a cuddle!! The Tawny owl is painted in watercolour, the Barn Owl in Acrylic. (Choice of paint medium at this point in time is based on the paper I used for the drawing...that's purely down to what I have available in my folder. As I get more accustomed to the behaviour of each medium, I am starting to make a more informed choice of paper when I do my initial drawings!) I think this time last year, the thought of painting birds in watercolour would have terrified I'm preferring watercolour to acrylic.

Barn Owl, Acrylic

Tawny Owl, Watercolour

So, there you have it, my efforts for the past couple of weeks. Considering how much has been going on, I'm amazed how much I managed to squeeze in. Ooh, just remembered...I spent a whole day drawing last week, so I have the luxury of a whole batch of images ready to paint as and when time permits!!!! A nice mixture of bird portraits (buzzards, hawks and owls) and of course flying hawks and even a pair of fighting starlings! Watch this space...!
Mandi ; )

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Paintbrushes, brushing paint...just as they should!

Woohoooo! Paint brushes ready and waiting; Artist ready to paint!!!

This week I've started a new painting of another bird of prey - this one is a 'Gyrlin' which is a hybrid cross between a Gyr Falcon and a Merlin. I was attracted to the beautiful shapes this bird made in flight...probably not clearly visible to the human eye, but using my camera, I managed to freeze the action. This bird is pretty much black and white, so I'll have to think about how I'm going to paint the background. Do I keep the whole painting monochrome or should I splash some vibrant or subtle colour in??? Time will tell... Looking at the image here, it looks like a graphite drawing, but in actual fact, I've used acrylic paint on cream coloured paper. I like to work on different surfaces to see how each one feels. This paper was very absorbent, and sucked the paint in thirstily.

Gyrlin - Acrylic on Paper
As well as the Gyrlin, I've re-worked my most recent sunset, which will be a background for Starling Murmurations. Its getting nearer to how I want it to look but still needs some tweaking. This painting is Acrylic on Canvas - this surface is much more forgiving when using acrylics as it is shiny and allows the paint to be manipulated much more then the absorbent paper.

Sunset Reflection - Acrylic on Canvas
I'm approaching the 'finishing line' on my Sparrowhawk painting...This is probably the 4th or 5th layer now, and its coming together nicely. Today, I accentuated the shading & tones of the wing feathers. I'm at the point now where I'll prop it up and 'look at it' for a few days to see if any necessary adjustments jump out at might be finished, it might not... Initially, it was the sharpness of this bird's eye that grabbed me about this picture - I need to make sure that is what shows in my painting. Here it is...

Sparrowhawk - Acrylic on Canvas Board

 I've also been working on the two Starling portraits. The birds themselves, I'm happy with - its the backgrounds that needed attention...and still do! They're much better now, but both still need developing...

Starling. Acrylic on Canvas

Punk Starling - Acrylic on Canvas Board

As well as all this painting, I've managed to get out and about with my camera this week...and as usual, some unexpected snapshots have presented me with inspiration for new paintings...I've been 'playing' with some photos in the computer and as a taster of what could become a painting, here's something I concocted earlier...Enjoy!

Compostie photograph...starlings heading to roost.
Mandi ;)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wild with a camera...I love where I live!

Sadly, not much painting to report this week, but on a happier note, I've managed a few trips out into the countryside with my camera. This week's highlight has to be my most recent visit to Ham Wall in the Somerset Levels to  once again witness the natural spectacle that is the Starling Murmurations. This time, being February, the light was much better than early January, and although biting cold, the sky was a beautiful peachy, pinky, purply colour. I was lucky this time to hear the talk given by the RSPB guide, so I came away with a better understanding of why the Starlings behave in this way. We also saw a Marsh Harrier scouring the reed beds for prey as we waited for the starlings to appear out of the distance.

At first they seem like  feint clouds in the far distant sky...then you realise its not a cloud, but a mass of starlings. More and more 'clouds' appear from all directions, and as they fly closer, it becomes clearer that what you are looking at is a massive 'swarm' of birds. These 'clouds' merge together over about 15 minutes and then they begin to gather and swirl, making patterns in the sky as they decide exactly which spot they want to choose for their night time roost site. It is such a breathtaking sight... Here are some photos - some of my favourite so far!

Marsh Harrier over golden reed beds  (centre of pic about 1/3 way down)

Starling murmurations (dark cloudy shadows at the foot of the hills just above the trees)

Murmurations in front of Glastonbury Tor

Starlings in action...!

WOW!! My favourite shot!

Starling Murmurations from Ham Wall.
Its difficult to top a trip like this, but with an hour to fill this afternoon, I coaxed my hubby away from his laptop and we went for a wander along Clevedon's Sea was beautiful! This is what we saw..
Clevedon Sea Front

Clevedon Sea Front - looking towards Weston

So, the paint brushes have had a few days off this week, the camera has been working all builds on inspiration for new paintings...its all good and its reinforced in my mind that I love where I live!
Mandi ;)