Draw a Bird Day – Bald Eagle

Draw a Bird Day – Eagle
Watercolor, gouache, and ink on sketch paper, 11″ x 14″

This is referenced from yet another photo I took from the train. The photo is blurry but even these are still usable as a reference even if the real expression can’t be seen well. I just kind of drew something.

The pen was just a black Pentel Slicci. That was followed by various mixes of cerulean, cobalt teal, ivory black, van dyke brown, yellow ochre, and a couple of other yellows already on the palette that I’m not sure what they were. Some were watercolor and some gouache. The brush used for everything was a Princeton 6300 size 10 bright. It’s a very stiff synthetic brush meant for thick oil paint, just the opposite of pretty much all watercolor brushes, but the way it handles can be an advantage. The stiff bristles are robust and hold up well in a faster and more aggressive approach to a painting.

Brisk Afternoon

Brisk Afternoon
Watercolor and gouache on sketch paper, 8.5″ x 5.5″

This was one of many deer that I’ve taken photos of from the train. Often they’re far away or there’s only a couple of seconds to aim the camera, focus, and take the photo, so a lot of them end up blurry or missed completely, but there’s a few that are decent enough to use as a painting reference. With this one I cropped away most of the photo, including some other deer, and repositioned this deer closer to the foreground plants for the composition.

The drawing was made only with a fountain pen and Daniel Smith walnut ink, no pencil needed, because this ink quickly melts away when painting over it with watercolor. Any errors or guiding lines that needed to be erased simply disappeared while painting, and any residual brown color blended in with the colors used.

Using a small porcelain dish for a watercolor palette works very well and it’s what I’ve been doing for most of the paintings and sketches I’ve made lately. Not all of the paints seen on it here were used in this particular painting because I don’t clean it between paintings. Van Dyke brown and cerulean gouache with Payne’s grey, ivory black, and dark yellow ochre watercolors was the palette for this, plus whatever other paints got mixed in.

Aside from briefly testing out a different brush at the beginning, the Cosmotop Spin oval wash brush seen in the final photo is what was used for everything. That could easily be my favorite brush because of how versatile it is, from razor thin lines to small areas of wash.

Snowy Colorado River

Winter Colorado River Bank
Watercolor on sketch paper, 8.5″ x 5.5″

Traveling through the mountains of Colorado on a train gives many different sights, such as this one in a canyon with the Colorado river passing through it.

This was first drawn with a fountain pen that I was recently given for my birthday. The ink blended into the watercolor in most places because it was a brown and was not waterproof, so that helped it not be obtrusive. In the open snowy area are a few brown trees are just the ink with no watercolor. Most of the paint used was Payne’s grey and sepia, with a little burnt sienna and some dark yellow ochre.

Snowy Colorado River 1 ref

Draw a Bird Day – Killdeer

Killdeer acting injured
Acrylic on sketch paper, 9.5″ x 6.5″

It’s late now, but earlier this morning I saw this killdeer pretending to be injured. They do that to lure potential predators away from their nest or chicks. Maybe after deciding I wasn’t a threat, she scurried off, stopping every few feet, but I didn’t see any nest.

It looks like the draw a bird day hub is over here on Create Art Everyday now.

Killdeer acting injured

Draw a Bird Day 3

Chickadee in a tree
Gouache and watercolor on paper, 7″ x 6″

I’ve been looking forward to making some chickadees for this month, but somehow thought there was still another day left until I checked my email this morning and saw Laura’s wood stork. The bird posting hub is here. (edit- fixed link) (edit 2) I forgot to mention all of these are referenced from Paint my Photo. In the order posted they’re from Thomas Waters, Rodney Campbell, Lissa Perkins, and Rebecca3.

These four study paintings were each entirely made with just a Robert Simmons titanium shader, size 20, with a short handle. The two middle ones were painted with some old tubes of casein from Shiva. It’s a paint made from milk protein that’s been used since ancient Egypt and used to be popular with illustrators until acrylic paints were invented. It’s water soluble, even after it’s dried, but gradually becomes more water resistant. I used to not really like it that much because if you overwork an area, like I often do, then it can get muddy fast. Of course, that’s more of an issue with my skills and approach than the paint, but it kept me from practicing much with these paints and is why I still have them after many years. I’m not sure if it’s the age of these paints, maybe they’ve gone bad, but I don’t like the odor of them. The handling of the paint itself was enjoyable though, so maybe this’ll be a good one to use outside for plein air. When thinned with water they’re similar to watercolor, and are otherwise similar to gouache.

Waterfall Book 9

Waterfall Book 9

Mixed media on paper, 7” x 5”

The paper had to endure a lot this time. To start, I lightly covered everything with a charcoal pencil with a some white charcoal mixed in. Everything was coated with clear acrylic gesso. This blended the charcoal a little for a middle grey background, it sealed the charcoal so it wouldn’t smudge anymore, and it provided a toothy surface to draw on top of that was like fine sandpaper.

After that I switched to colored pencils. The abrasiveness of the clear gesso helped pick up the colored pencil, which was close to full strength without much pressure, but it wasn’t making the smoothest lines. In a few places more white was needed, but the gesso didn’t have enough tooth left to pick up more pencil, so I applied more clear gesso in that specific place. Once it was dry, the surface tooth was restored and the color below was sealed again, so it was as if working on fresh paper. The colored pencil could also be smudged by the wet brush though, so I had to be careful with that. The rain was made with a card used as a straight edge and a white pencil.

Waterfall Book 9 Tools

The tools I used this time were an old size 10 filbert brush from Loew-Cornell for the Liquitex clear gesso, white and black charcoal pencils from General’s, black, grey, and white colored pencils from Koh-I-Noor, and a black colored pencil from Tombow. The Tombow pencil went on the paper smoother, but required more pressure for a heavy application, and was useful for increasing the coverage of the black in some places or making finer lines. A few pencils I sharpened with a knife in a way that exposes a lot of lead so they can be used for a long time without sharpening, but the white charcoal lead broke right after I started using it. It has a much more brittle and crumbly lead.

Waterfall Book 9 Ideas

This is a sketch pad of 14″ x 11″ bristol board that I set up on a table easel. I’ve found that sketching ideas on large paper works much better for me. This allows easier exploration of an idea because related ideas can be grouped on one paper instead of separated on many papers. A drawing can be made on one part of the paper and then next to it a certain technique or medium can be experimented with. Here I used a lot of different media, including acrylic, watercolor pencil, and even a little water soluble wax paint that I just got and wanted to know how it’d work on paper. Using a large paper also allows for a non-linear development of an idea that may branch out into multiple possible options.

People Sketches 1

Moleskin Sketches People 1

I want to start practicing drawing people again, so I found a few portraits from various old artists to copy in the small moleskin notebook from the last post. From left to right the original art for these are by John Singer Sargent, Anthony van Dyck, Hans Holbein the Younger, and Rembrandt van Rijn. I used a .3mm mechanical pencil with 2H lead.

Moleskin Sketches People 1 left

Moleskin Sketches People 1 right

Waterfall Book 7 and Sketches

Waterfall Book 7

Graphite on paper, 7″ x 5″

This time I added a fox and tried a different viewing angle. I think so far this project has been beneficial for me because each waterfall drawing I try to figure out a fresh view on the same basic subject, so to avoid repetitiveness I have to plan and try new things. In other words, you eventually have to start thinking outside the box. Adding a second point of interest, like animals, people, or buildings, also gives more options for the total composition, but I still want to explore a diversity of waterfall views and avoid simply drawing the same one over and over as only a backdrop for the other point of interest.

Waterfall Book 7 Tools

For this drawing I used an old graphite stick that at some point in the past I must have shaved to have a mostly rounded end. I don’t know the softness of it because it doesn’t have any writing on the side, but it’s something softer than HB. Also I used an old lead holder with HB lead in it, and the Tombow eraser again.

Here’s some drawings I made in a moleskin notebook during the past week.

A Land of Hills and Valleys

Land of Hills and Valleys

Watercolor and gouache on paper, 3.5″ x 8.5″

Recently I was reading a passage in the Bible, Deuteronomy chapter 11, in which Moses was describing to the Israelites in the wilderness what the land they would enter into would be like. This chapter is one of several places that uses the famous phrase “a land that floweth with milk and honey.” After explaining that it wouldn’t be like in Egypt where they irrigated by their own work, they were told that they would receive rain for their crops. I especially liked the wording of verse 11, “But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven.” This is what I was thinking about when I made these little paintings above.

The chapter goes on to explain that receiving the blessing of abundance of rain would be dependent on their faithfulness to God, saying “…if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season…”

The paints I used the most was a 1:1 premix of phthalo green blue shade and ivory black, Monte Amiata natural sienna, a little bismuth yellow, a couple of different blacks with white gouache, and a light blue gouache premix. The rain in the bottom painting took a long time because I didn’t actually paint the rain. Instead, I painted everything, and then I darkened everything except those lines for rain. So it looks like those lines are painted lighter, but actually they were just left at the amount of lightness that everything had before I darkened everything.

Grey Paper: Deer Sketch

Grey Paper: Deer Sketch

Pencils: Palomino Blackwing, an old Sanford Turquoise H (now sold under the Prismacolor brand name), General’s white charcoal, Cretacolor white lead.
Paper: Strathmore toned gray 5.5″x8.5″ 80lb.

Grey Paper: Deer Sketch reference

A long time ago I took this photo of three deer drinking water in front of my house from a bowl that was for the birds. This is a new sketchbook that I got recently and this is the first thing I’ve drawn in it, just the top half of the page. Normally I always work on white paper, but this toned paper was an enjoyable change. The method I used in which a grid is drawn to transfer the image from the photo to the paper is too meticulous though and took me a lot longer to finish than I thought it would. Even with the grid I didn’t get every detail exactly accurate.