Tuesday, March 27, 2012
We're continuing to work on the cover for Birding Magazine, of the American Birding Association's Bird of the Year, the evening grosbeak.
You’ll notice the light regime changes in my progress photos. Normally I trot outside to shoot them, but sometimes I reach a key passage in a painting when it’s dark outside. So for some photos, I had to use incandescent light rather than the clean north light that usually floods my studio. This is a work-in-progress, and progress isn’t always as well-lit as we’d like.
The apple tree leaning over the road is a bit of a stretch, I know. I wanted to give the viewer the experience of pretending they are birding and seeing such a wonderful sight, so it was important to me to have a road in the painting, a place for the viewer to stand. A road stretching away gives the viewer a distance to walk into, so I stretched the truth a bit. Let’s just say it’s an apple tree that’s leaning so far over the fence it’s probably about to fall into the road and not worry about it, OK? It’s an imaginary apple tree, anyway. It won’t even break the fence when it falls.
This photo was taken by daylight—what a difference in color temperature! I like the way the sky turned out, especially near the lower left horizon. It feels springy to me. I’ve rubbed away the Incredible White masking compound with my finger and peeled off the masking film to reveal clean paper. I’ve had lots of fun with this painting until now, and it’ll only get better.
What fun I had laying in the brilliant spring greens of the landscape! I went ahead and painted right over the fenceposts because they would be so much darker than the grass. I could paint them over it without a problem. My secret plan for the road was to tie its color into the colors in the plumage of the female grosbeak. She being nearest to the ground, I think it’ll work well.
I start by painting the branches, and then I paint the birds’ feet and flower petioles all in one go, since they’re almost the same color. I like the way the foreground is starting to work with the background. The little buildings ground the whole composition, as do the fenceposts; they define the plane of the road and give the eye somewhere to go. I’m SO excited to paint the flowers and birds, and especially to lay in the sharp blacks of the wings, and the brilliant yellows in the birds’ plumage.
I paint those glow-in-the-dark green bills next, and for efficiency’s sake, I do them all at once. Once I’ve mixed the color, why recreate it for each bird?