Tuesday, January 13, 2009

First Class of 2009

I started my first class of 2009 on a cold gray, rainy morning so I decided to paint a pair of cardinals on the bare redbud tree outside my kitchen window. I sketched them in last night and lo and behold they actually made a brief appearance in the trees and rain during class this morning!

After I sketched in pencil, I applied the Pebeo masking fluid with the brushes I save for using masking fluid. I soap the wet brush and remove any excess suds with my fingers and then dip it in a small amount of masking fluid in a separate container from the large bottle. this makes the larger bottle last longer and protects it from contamination.

Step 2 in my cardinals painting

When the masking fluid had dried on my sketch, I mixed up several fairly thick puddles of paint on my palette.1. was rose madder genuine and cerulean blue for the lavender hue of the pine trunks in the rain. 2. was cobalt blue and burnt sienna to darken the trunks. 3. was indian yellow and antwerp blue as a light spring green.

I carefully wet the entire painting with a big 2-inch brush and quickly brushed in two wide streaks of the lavender, darkened part of them with the #2 mixture. Then I splashed some of the bright spring green in the upper parts and some mostly burnt sienna in the lower parts..I left a few uncovered spots white and as the colors began to dry, took a small brush and flicked in some branches with a thick burnt sienna/cobalt blue mixture. By then they retained a thin branch shape but remained soft edged which will make them recede behind the masked branches which will have crisp edges.

Then I took a breath and watched the paint dry to make sure there were no too wet places to bloom. After the shine was completely gone from the paper I felt comfortable using the hair dryer to complete the drying so that I could remove the masking fluid. The 140 lb. cold press arches watercolor paper that I had just taped down with masking tape dried completely flat with the hair dryer.

Step 3

When the paper was thoroughly dry I removed the masking fluid with a rubber cement eraser recovering the whitesthat I had covered with masking fluid to protect them from the paint.

I used a stiff bristle brush and a little water to correct any edges that needed to be cleaned up as well as any breakthrough color in the whites.

By this time it was time for lunch so we adjourned and will finish the painting next week.

Thank you Nancy and Kathy for sharing your images with us.

Step 4 in Cardinals watercolor

I wet the body of the female cardinal and dropped in yellow ochre, cad orange and burnt sienna..then a few touches of cad scarlet. While the bird was still very damp, I mixed cobalt blue into the burnt sienna and sofly contoured the shadow on the lower part of the body. When dry I painted the black feathers around the beak and the black eye using a very dark mixture of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. I left a little highlight in the eye and around..look very carefully at your reference photo and paint detail as you see it.

I painted the beak with cad orange, cad scarlet and a bit of winsor red for the shadows..the tiniest bit of the black on the tip of the beak.

I painted the male in a similar fashion beginning with water and dropping in cad scarlet and winsor red to contour the body. I used brown madder for the darkest shadows and under the tail. I painted the feet gripping the limb with a combination of brown madder and cobalt blue. This male had more black feathers around his beak, painted again with a mixture of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna.

When both birds were painted, I began painting the limbs of the old redbud tree, using first a very wet pale gray mixed with cobalt blue and a touch of burnt sienna and then dropping in a stronger mixture with more burnt sienna along the shaded edge of the limbs. I continued painting these with varying mixtures to give interest and make the limbs twist and turn. The darker limbs usually appear to come toward you while the paler ones recede. I painted a couple of scraggly leaves yellow with edges dropped in with burnt sienna and cad scarlet.

Cardinals final

I finished the rest of the limbs and looked at them carefully for shadow and light which would weave them together and create a 3 dimensional effect. the lower limbs become a bit darker and rougher as they come toward you.