Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Watercolors, Big and Small

When you work in a number of media as I do you might ask how I choose a particular medium. Well if you get somebody to answer please let me know! I really have no idea what prompts me to change from one to another.

The watercolor above, a larger than normal 12x16 inches on Arches 140# cold press paper, is based on a photo I took of a Northern Pintail at 'The Meadows' at Cape May a year or two ago. The photo above is missing some of the orange cast that dominates the watercolor but otherwise it's fairly true to the photo. And the photo reminds me pretty much of what I saw, and why I took the photo.

Still you have to ask yourself if it's possible to do a sunset painting and not end up with a horrible cliche. I'm not sure. I do know the fear of cliche is why I never attempted to paint this. But I've had second thoughts on donating my recent Great Black-backed Gull at Flatrock Dam watercolor to the Manayunk Roxborough Art Center fundraiser. I like it too much.

So I think it was the idea of producing another work for it that prompted this. I think it would have been easier in acrylic since it's so forgiving. But I like to keep pushing myself with watercolor, to make some vague attempt at mastering it. That's what I've done here.

There's probably more to do. But I decided I needed to leave it be for now, and see what it looked like when posted online, and in the clear light of tomorrow.

Though the boldly colored beauties called Wood Warblers are starting to appear here for their brief visit there are still some more subtle beauties around, such as the Swamp Sparrow. In this case I know why I chose watercolor. I wanted to be true to the bird and try to get the subtle variations in color in this bird. Watercolor seemed best for this purpose. I also wanted to try out my new 5x7 inch Fabriano Artistico watercolor block. I bought it with the idea that I'd take it into the field and actually do some field watercolors this spring and summer. We'll see. These particular Swamp Sparrows by the way are often found in the dappled sun and shade of a small streambed. That's what I've tried to capture here.


Ellen Snyder said...

Hi Ken,

Nice swamp sparrow - just as they would look when alert to intruders. I think you are right that watercolor was perfect for this scene. The contrast of oranges and grays of the sparrow with the background is striking.

The migrants are slowly arriving here - yellow rumps, hermit thrushes, kinglets, sapsuckers. Waiting for the big flush of birds...


Ken Januski said...

Hi Ellen,

I think you'll see some more migrants soon! Today we heard our first Wood Thrushes and Blue-headed Vireos and saw our first Ovenbirds, Black and White Warblers and Gray Catbirds.

Aren't Swamp Sparrows beautiful? I'm glad I finally got some photos that were good enough for me to try to do them justice. One day I'll be able to sketch them like this in the field, but not quite yet.