Tufted Titmouse: #1

My friends Tyler and Shanti want a tufted Titmouse painting, so I went for it today.

I didn’t bother taking any progress photos because I wanted to focus on the painting itself. I find that when I’m painting I get all worked up thinking about what am I going to write about on my blog etc. That ends up making me feel pressured to turn out something that’s either expertly crafted, or riddled with lessons and techniques.

Today, I decided to try to forget about all that, and just paint.

I continue trying to better understand construction and perspective, which I tried to put into practice for the head. The photos I found to study were mostly looking off to the side, so I had to do some guess work on this pose. I goofed on the beak, it should be about ten times thinner. And the legs are too fat.

I’m really happy with the wet in wet tuft on the head, and the russet streak on the side. It can be tough to get a controlled bloom of pigment like that. To achieve it, I painted the head and the area above it with clean water. When the sheen was off the paper, I dabbed in a heavy drip of Indanthrone Blue mixed with Raw Umber at the base of the beak. Because the paper was still a little wet, the pigment travelled upwards while the pigment wicked into the paper. I did the same thing to get the soft bloom of brown. With this strategy, it seems easier to control a blossom of pigment. I can get it to be concentrated at one edge of the wet paper, and it slowly creeps up smoothly diffusing in the remaining areas.

This is definitely something I want to experiment with.

When I painted the tree, I used my knuckle to smudge a bit of texture into the semi-dry pigment in order to create some texture. This is a technique I learned in Andrew Lowery’s book, and it works well considering how simple as it is.

The background I’m not pleased with. I wanted to get more texture and modeled color by spritzing with water while it dried, but I continue to be at a loss as to how to get this technique to work reliably on Arches paper. When I try on Bee or Kilamonjaro, or Saunders, or even cellulose paper, I get sharp edges on the droplets. But when I try with Arches I am always too early (so the spritz of water just diffuses smoothly) or I’m too late (and the pigment doesn’t move at all.) I really need to practice this to get a feel for the right timing.

That’s it, really. Next I go on to the Carolina Wren, then I’m done with this little project for my friends.

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