Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Quick Canada Warblers
Following up on yesterday's quick watercolor of a Lark Sparrow I've done four very quick watercolors on the same page of various Canada Warblers seen at Shenandoah National Park in 2009.
The purpose in doing these quick watercolors is really to get used to watercolor as a shorthand for representation. There are some watercolorists who work in such a way that there isn't much shorthand involved. They really try to get every detail that they see either in real life or from a photo onto the paper. But I have no interest in this.
I have done it recently to some extent in some pencil drawings. But the purpose is really just to understand the structure of the bird more fully. When it comes to watercolor though its beauty to me is in its ability to use its own visual language to represent not just the subject, e.g. birds, but also the environment, e.g. light.
This is not the time for another lengthy post on why I pursue watercolor, even with all its difficulties. But I did just want to say that I the watercolors I most admire often seem to use it as language of visual shortcuts. Certain brushstrokes, abstract when seen just by themselves, become magically the wing of a warbler, when seen in the whole painting. That illusion is one of the marvels of painting I think, enjoyed by all as long as it doesn't become mannered and formulaic. So that is what I'm working on with these quick studies: learning the language of watercolor, learning to use broad brushmarks to indicate a bird all the while knowing that all sorts of detail is being deliberately destroyed as I do so.
Each bird was done in 5-10 minutes.