Saturday, October 5, 2013

Back to Splooshing Paint Around

Chipping Sparrows Eating Seed. Watercolor on Arches Paper by Ken Januski.
After all those recent prints and a week of chasing birds, identifying them and rarely sketching them I found that when I went back in the studio I felt like splashing paint around. There are a few ways to do this. The first, oil, I've more or less abandoned because the smells associated with it just aren't too healthy in the house I believe. That leaves acrylic and watercolor. If I had some big canvases stretched and ready to go I'd perhaps try acrylic.

The default for splooshing though is watercolor, both because it can be done on any size of paper, so I generally have plenty about, and because it's hard to get less toxic, unless you decide to put the paintbrush in your mouth.

There's also of course the special sense of light that watercolor can give. It's something not matched by other media I think. It's also the medium I'm least familiar with of the three mentioned. But I've kept at it over the last 5-7 years and finally feel halfway comfortable with it.

I always loved the photo on which this is based, though I only took it about a month ago. There's something Oriental about it, like a brush painting. So though I sketched it in with some detail, at least on the birds, I kept it very loose when I picked up the brush. To me watercolor is always a compromise between accuracy and spontaneity. If accuracy kills spontaneity then I'm very disappointed. If spontaneity harms accuracy a bit I can easily live with it. If I just want accuracy I can stick with the photo.

Speaking of accuracy it's true that the breast of a Chipping Sparrow seems brilliantly white when it's in flight. But in shade, and in the photo on which this is based, it was quite blue-gray. I pushed it a bit beyond that for the sake of a colorful painting.

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