Friday, June 12, 2009

Finishing Up the Wood Ducks

I believe these wood ducks are done. Of course I thought that yesterday. But I've gone back into it and added more background color among other things. I'm also on the verge of losing too much of the white of the paper and I don't want to turn this into mud as I did with the Greater Yellowlegs. So I think it's done.

I did have to slap my own hand today, and to no avail. A few days ago I vowed to follow a new method of working in watercolor pencils in which I would not touch a pencil to wet paper. Until today I've been successful. But it is an almost insurmountable temptation to try to resist rectifying a mistake right when you see it. So I did that today a small bit. I don't think it did horrible harm. But it's still a danger. Hopefully no one sees anything out of place here.

So that's it for this watercolor. Ever since I saw and photographed the wood ducks on Easter, 2009 I've wanted to do a painting of them. They are incredibly beautiful birds, the female just as much as the more striking male. I'm glad this watercolor pencil experiment gave me the opportunity to do so.

What's on the agenda next? I'm not sure. Should I try working from life again and try to redeem the bad watercolor pencil rendering of the clematis from last weekend? Should I do more experiments inside with watercolor pencils? Go to straight watercolor, and maybe a larger size? I guess we'll just have to wait and see what strikes me this weekend.


Pam Johnson Brickell said...

I love Wood Ducks too. Nice job on their reflection.

Watercolor, whether traditional pigment or pencils, will teach patience. The hair dryer helps, or taking the dogs for a walk, gardening, laundry when all the other fun stuff in done....... I tried doing 2 paintings at once, as some artists do, but found my concentration levels just not there.

Have you seen the BBC presentation of "The Impressionists?" It's a 2 DVD set. It's taken directly from letters between Manet, Monet, Degas and others to each other plus journal entries. We'll watch part 2 this evening. Think you'd like it.

Ken Januski said...

Hi Pam,

Yes, patience, patience and more patience is something I'm slowly learning. I was thinking about that earlier today. My first philosophy of art, ever since I tried to do oil paintings as a child, was brute force and force of will. You just make the medium do what you want.

But it doesn't work that way, though I do think there was a misunderstood interpretation of Abstract Expressionism, that did think that. Existential struggle, macho posturing, etc. I studied with people who I think felt that way to a certain extent, and many of them were very good artists.

I was partially sympathetic to it. But it didn't leave much room for the thinking artist or for learning to work with your medium rather than against it. So watercolor has really forced me in the other direction. It's been, and continues to be, a real education. But one that's really worth it.

I haven't heard of 'The Impressionists' but it sounds appealing. I was fortunate to study art history at two very good schools when I was getting my degrees in studio art. Many of those courses included reading the original letters and writings of people like Monet, Degas, Cezanne and also 20th century artists. They were hugely rewarding, especially for getting an idea of what artists really thought. I still remember what a struggle art seemed to be for Cezanne, not trying to create the forerunner of abstract art but just trying to put down what he actually saw.

I'd love to be able to see something based on the Impressionists writings!