African Pygmy Falcon

African Pygmy Falcon
Watercolor on 60 lb sketch paper, 3.25″ round

I painted this from a photo I took at the zoo, using the same palette as in the last post. The brush for everything was a #3 round kolinsky sable.

Rough draft with palette dish and brush.
Rough draft with palette dish and brush.

Instead of rushing into a new painting, it’s often helpful to first practice with a rough draft. When we look at something, even if we think we’ve seen it, there’s still so many details that are overlooked. A rough draft helps you become more familiar with the subject you’re painting and you’ll have a clearer idea of correct proportions and positioning while noticing previously unseen details.

Above is the previous page of the sketchbook where I was playing with the paint a little before deciding what to make. As the sketch progressed it became apparent that I had misjudged the width of the head, making it too narrow, and had also placed the beak too low. Seeing this helped me make a more focused effort in the areas that had been difficult in the first try. I hope this can show people that even if your first try has errors and isn’t what you wanted to make, you can still try again and do better.

Dall Sheep

Dall Sheep on Rocks
Graphite and pastel on grey paper, 5.5″ x 8.5″

A few months ago I went to the Denver Zoo and took a photo of a Dall sheep, which is like a bighorn sheep but white. Wikipedia says it’s a subspecies of thinhorn sheep, so I guess the horns aren’t so big either. By the way, I’m posting things on Instagram now, here, and I’m thinking that I might post things like sketches or works in progress there before posting them here.

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.

Waterfall Book 19

A Little Bird Catching a Bug
Colored pencil on paper, 7″ x 5″

One more try at colored pencil, but this’ll probably be the last time I use it in this notebook since the paper is so smooth that it doesn’t pick up the color well. I think I have a good idea of a material to use for next week though.

Notebook Ready For Drawing
Drawing setup

Here’s how I started, with the notebook clamped open on an old canvas board resting on my desktop easel and the sketch stuck above it using a little modeling clay.

Waterfall Book 18

A Peaceful Garden
Colored pencil on paper, 7″ x 5″

This week I wanted to try a peaceful scene with the idea of botanical gardens in mind. I was in a bit of a rush with travel plans so to get it done today some of the work was done while waiting at a train station and some while on the train at stops. These are Koh-i-Noor colored pencils, mostly the polycolor line, but also a little of one of their woodless progresso greens was used. The photo might not be the best but all I have available right now are dim yellowish lights and some editing was needed.

Earth and Graphite Sketches 2

EG Sketch 8

Again I used pozzuoli red and graphite watercolors. In the 6th and 7th I also used a little mars yellow, and in the 8th and 9th I added zinc white into the graphite in a few places to get a bluish grey. The 6th, 7th, and 8th are copies of paintings by Thomas Girtin, Charles-François Daubigny, and David Cox.

I was thinking I’d post sketches like this on a regular schedule, using various earth and graphite watercolors. You hardly ever see graphite watercolor being used, and I think only one or two brands even make it, but I’m really starting to like how it looks and works.

Earth and Graphite Sketches 1

BR Sketch 1

Here’s a few sketches that I made with graphite watercolor paint from Daniel Smith and some red ochre watercolor that I made myself. These are just painted in a regular sketchbook, not watercolor paper, so the paper can’t be worked very much before it starts to tear. I like how these came out, so I’m planning on doing a lot more.

I was going to post a painting last week, trying out a different style, but after it was done I didn’t really like it. When I started to redo it though I got sick, so that’s why it’s been so long since the last post. 🙂