Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Another Experiment

Northern Waterthrush at Magee Marsh. Watercolor by Ken Januski

As I've experimented with the Stillman and Birn Gamma sketchbooks over the last few days I've learned that it's best to keep to a few simple washes. Otherwise the paper buckles and you can't really even draw or paint a straight line after that. All well and good. But I can't resist going on to do more washes.

In this case I spent at least 30 minutes on a drawing of a Northern Waterthrush seen at Magee Marsh a few years ago. This is based on a photo I took. It may not seem it to many viewers but I'm a stickler for color and color orchestration. As best I can tell that's why I keep reworking these way beyond what the paper tells me I should do.

The paper does hold up though. So at the end, though I may not be able to draw straight lines due to the buckled paper, I can still put one color on top of another until I get something that looks right to me in terms of color and composition.

I think that this use of many layers of wash and color works a bit better on this, and to a certain extent on the Eastern Phoebe and Great Blue Heron, because I'm spending more time on the initial drawing, particularly in the birds themselves. This allows me to be somewhat detailed on them, and then be freer and looser on the background. So in the end there's at least to me a pleasant combination of detail and inexact suggestion.

This will never pass for a finished watercolor. Neither would the Eastern Phoebe, especially if you saw either in person. This is much less so of the work over the last week on the Delta paper. Still I find the paper and the paintings very worthwhile. Already I'm thinking of doing an acrylic painting of the Eastern Phoebe. Tomorrow I'll probably be thinking the same thing about this work.

I do look forward to the arrival of some new Stillman and Birn sketchbooks. I'd like to continue to experiment with more finished work on the heavier paper, especially that of the new Zeta sketchbooks. This has been an unplanned diversion. But one that I think is paying off, and fun to do as well.

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