|Common Mergansers on Schuylkill River. Chinese Brush Painting by Ken Januski.|
|Pileated Woodpecker and Northern Flicker Eating Poison Ivy Berries. Sumi Brush Pen Sketch by Ken Januski.|
Last Saturday was the annual Philadelphia Mid-winter Bird Census and we took part once again. Unseasonably warm weather, and a totally overcast day, made for an odd count. Outside of seeing and hearing a Common Raven flying over the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education we didn't see much unusual and to some extent we didn't even see the usual.
But we did see our first Common Mergansers of the year, pictured above riding the waves of the Schuylkill River. We also saw four species of woodpecker eating poison ivy berries from the same tree, around which the poison ivy had wound itself.
I'm still stuck on Chinese brush painting, not a bad thing to get stuck on, but something that I don't want to make a lifelong detour from my other work. But for now my idiosyncratic, and some might just say bad, combination of western style and Chinese brush painting style seems a useful and informative way to make pictures. My hope is that eventually what I've learned from brush painting will manifest itself both in my prints and in my watercolors. And hopefully I'll get better at it in itself, though given that you could spend your life studying it I don't have high expectations.
The mergansers are painted with ink made from an ink stick and water, which allows me a variation of blacks and grays. I used a small Chinese calligraphy brush and a larger sumi brush for it. The Pileated Woodpecker and Northern Flicker was painted with a Kuretake Sumi Brush Pen. The virtue of it is that the ink is carried in a reservoir, like a fountain pen, but it cannot easily create more than one color, a deep black.