Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pushing On With Watercolor and Sumi Brush Pen

Adult and Juvenile Sora at Tinicum. Sumi Brush Pen and Watercolor by Ken Januski.

I'm not sure why it is that members of the rail family are among our favorite birds. I'm sure partially it's due to their relative rarity and to their general secrecy. But when you see them you also realize that they have a very subtle beauty to them. Not exactly Scarlet Tanagers or Cape May Warblers but striking all the same.

We were at Tinicum (aka John Heinz NWR) the other day looking for some of the collection of unusual birds that have been there recently. These sora were among them and they were very cooperative in staying out in the open for us to look at them. There was also a third adult that made a brief appearance.

I did a couple mediocre sumi brush pen field sketches of them and of one of the two Tri-colored Heron. I'm not showing them because I pretty much ruined them by trying to add color back in the studio. But I did take a number of photos. Because they were so striking I decided to do another 12x16 sumi and watercolor painting of them. It's based on a number of photos, and my memory of the birds.

My favorite watercolor artists generally use it in a much more gentle, fresher and more subtle way than I do. I can greatly admire their work. But when I try to work in that way I'm generally disappointed with the results. But I still want to work in watercolor. The sense of light and freshness that it can have is just too desirable to ignore. So I keep trying. This is the fifth of the larger, for me, 12x16 paintings with watercolor and sumi brush pen.

Eventually I'll turn back to printmaking but for now it makes sense to keep pushing on with this combination of media. It feels liberating to be working at a larger scale, though it's nowhere near the 72x96 inch abstract paintings that I used to do. In any case I feel like I might finally be able to get to where watercolor is a comfortable, or at least somewhat comfortable, medium for me if I continue working at this size and with these media. So I will keep at this for awhile.

Though I did start reading a new book on Japanese woodblock printmaking, and that is already teasing me with the thought of returning to wood blocks.

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