Friday, May 27, 2011

Warblers Need Crayons

Before we left on our vacation I stocked up on some art supplies I thought might prove useful, in particular something that would allow me to quickly add color to field sketches. With many wood warblers on the horizon I wanted to be able to add color in the field, with the birds in front of me.

I've tried watercolor pencils with no success or happiness. So this time I decided to try Caran d'Ache Neocolor crayons. They promised brilliance, a prerequisite for wood warblers, as well as the ability to lay lighter colors over dark.

Well it made no difference. I never had the time, or room, to use them on the crowded boardwalk of Magee Marsh.

But since I've been home I've decided to give them a try on some warbler sketches, some based on field sketches, some based on photos I took.

At top is a male Cape May warbler, shaking itself off after a dip in the stream. To me it's in the running for most beautiful wood warbler, though my wife turns up her nose at this thought and suggests it's a bit over the top. The orange/rust/rufous on cheek though is brilliant against the yellow and black of the rest of the head. I think the crayons capture this fairly well. What they don't do, and this is more my fault than theirs, is create a convincing background.

We also saw a number of one of the more subtle warblers, the Northern Waterthrush. It tends to stay low near water and I'd hoped to set off the rich, colorful reflections in the water against the subdued browns of the bird itself. But a limited palette of just 10 colors left the richness I'd hoped for somewhat absent.

Still these crayons allow me to work fast, to experiment, to try out ideas for paintings. It's taking awhile for me to work myself up to more ambitious work. I think these crayons works will be a productive step along the way.


Jennifer Tetlow said...

The crayons certainly seem to add very vivid colour - presumably you can get a bigger range of shades? I rather like the brightness, and as always it it practice with them, and it is always lovely trying a new medium.

Ken Januski said...

Hi Jennifer. That's my thought too that they do have a vivid color. I keep trying to cut down on my expenditures for art supplies so I bought the box of crayons with smallest number of colors AND smallest cost. But as I think about it they're really only $1-$2 per color. So I think you've convinced me I need to look into buying a greater variety.

And of course there is practice. I don't know why it is but every time I try a new medium I expect to have it mastered on the first try!! I know better than that and am still struggling with watercolor six years after I started. Time for more practice I think.

Always happy to hear your comments. And I've enjoyed reading your own recent posts. Need to make a comment soon! Our own garden sad to say is in need of serious weeding.