Monday, July 13, 2015

Gulls, Terns, Watercolor, Sumi Brush Pen

Forster's Terns, Laughing and Bonaparte's Gulls at "The Meadows.' Watercolor and Sumi Brush Pen by Ken Januski.

At least once a year, sometimes more, I try a more energetic, spontaneous type of watercolor. Though I'm excited with them as I start by the end of the day or maybe a day or two later I've become disappointed again. They haven't lived up to my expectations.

This year though I'm still happy with the Red Knots and other birds from Cooks Beach, NJ that I showed a week or two ago. Something seemed to work well in that combination of sumi brush pen and watercolor. Perhaps the larger size, at least for me, of 12x16 inches helped. In any case after weeks of sumi brush pen studies I wanted to get back to a larger work.

This is it above. I have long wanted to do something with a photo I took at 'The Meadows' in Cape May, NJ about three years ago. The combination of Laughing Gull with wings up in the air, smaller Bonaparte's Gull and even smaller Forster's Terns was appealing. I just couldn't figure out how to do it without it looking like a blatant copy of a photo.

Finally I decided that adding some other birds, including the Forster's Tern coming in for a landing might give it a bit more energy and depth and help prevent it from looking like a staged scene. I'm largely happy with it. The potential problem with this type of more spontaneous work is that in working quickly, you'll make a mistake, either in a bird itself or in the proportion or scale of birds in relation to one another. This type of thing can be worked out in studies for more finished work but it seems antithetical to the type of spontaneous work I'm trying to achieve here.

As I said I generally only do one or two more energetic watercolors like this each year. I'm generally so disappointed in the first one that I don't return to it. But that's not the case with these last two sumi and watercolor paintings. So this time I expect to do a few more and see if I can't come up with a semi-permanent way of working in watercolor.

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