Bird Journal continued… Page 5, more welcome birds!

I believe that the goal of a journal is to do daily pieces – at that, I’m failing badly! This is obviously the time of year to do a “bird journal”, but it’s also the time of year when many hours each day are spent working in the very yard that welcomes these beautiful flying creatures! In fact, much of what I’m doing in the yard is planting things that help to draw in those birds… That being reality, I make notes of new/different birds in a notebook and work on the actual artwork mostly at night when the house is quiet-when I have the energy left to do so! It seems that my list of new visitors has far exceeded the time that I have available. And now, in less than 2 weeks, I’m beginning another 30 in 30 challenge-a different one this time. Check out this Marc Holmes June challenge on Facebook: #30x30DirectWatercolor2018! I’m not very experienced at “direct watercolor”, but will try… Thank heavens he’s very lose about rules and if you pre-draw and/or use some pen&ink, it’s acceptable. I know the idea is to get better at direct watercolor, but it’s also simply to get 30 pieces done in 30 days-one may have to preclude the other for me!

Now for my 5th journal piece, I’ve done “Cassin’s Finch”, both male and female since they look so different (and yes, I see that my lettering is not improving…). They are here some years and others they are not. This year, there seem to be more of them and, although the information says they “live in evergreen forests in the mountains up to about 10,000 feet elevation” they seem to be here, at least for the spring. That’s fine; they’re enjoyable to watch, whether gleaning seeds from the ground, eating insects in the trees and bushes or at the feeders. They are such an interesting pair, with the female so “bland” that she doesn’t much resemble her much showier partner!

     The Cassin’s Finch are here this year!

#challenge #journal #birds #finch #finches #cassinsfinch #artistic #journaling #experimental #artisticjournaling #lettering #drawing #art #watercolor #inspiration #gardening #practice #sketch #spring #landscape #cityscape

There’s a first time for everything…? Bird journal, page 4

Even though I knew-for years-that wild turkeys were rampant in our entire area, I had never seen any anywhere near our neighborhood. Then one day, while I was in my studio working, my dog started barking. Since she’s not much of a barker, I came upstairs to see what was going on. To my utter shock (and dismay) there were 4 wild hen turkeys in the backyard. I immediately ran outside, collected pine cone “ammunition” and used it by throwing them at the turkeys while chasing them, finally hitting one on the tail feathers. They moved faster then and, even more surprising than seeing them in my yard, was seeing them fly onto the house roof rather than just going over the fence. They then flew off from there. Yes, I probably looked and sounded crazy – I don’t care, because I don’t want them in my yard!

The rest of the story is that about a 1 1/2-2 weeks later they were back, but in my neighbor’s back yard. I did the same routine to chase them away, from within my own yard. It worked, with them going over her fence to the front yard and then away down the street. I’ve not seen them come back, but it could certainly happen at any time. I hope not-they’re not welcome birds in my yard, nor in this neighborhood, being loud, damaging, dirty and stupid!

That all being said, I have to add that they’re very huge and impressive creatures up close! Since they were, hopefully one-time, visitors to my yard, I’ve included this sketch in my journal along with the story…

     A very unwelcome group of birds in March!

 

#challenge #journal #birds #turkey #wildturkey #artistic #journaling #experimental #artisticjournaling #lettering #drawing #art #watercolor #inspiration #gardening #practice #sketch #spring #landscape

There’s a first time for everything…? Bird journal, page 3

The American Robin – a constant, and welcome, visitor most of the year. This year, they showed up here – lots of them – during the second week of March, as the weather started to warm again. Our ground is healthy with numerous earthworms and the Robins seems to be very happy in our yard. Last year there was a pair who pretty much owned the front yard; they would dive-bomb most squirrels and other birds out there, often even trying to drive me away when I was mowing, weeding, etc.! We had a bad wind storm last fall and a HUGE limb came down from our front yard shade tree (that clean-up is a whole other story)! Perhaps that was where those robins had nested, as they seem to be avoiding that tree this year. That’s fine, because it makes it a more welcome spot for other, more colorful and rare visitors this year.

     March brought the return of Robins!

#challenge #journal #birds #AmericanRobins #artistic #journaling #experimental #artisticjournaling #lettering #drawing #art #watercolor #inspiration #gardening #practice #sketch #spring #landscape

There’s a first time for everything…? Page 2

Continuing with my first bird journaling attempt, here is my other early January backyard visitor. Perhaps neither the Nuthatches nor the Chickadees ever left, but not a lot of time is spent bird-watching in the winter around here. The days are cold, short, dark and dreary…and the birds are few. This year though, January and early February were real exceptions to our usual weather, with temperature highs in the 40s and sometimes even into the lower 50s! That being the case, it was quite a treat to look out and see these two types of birds in residence – which is largely what prompted this journal experiment! 🐥😍🐿

(Unfortunately, you can clearly see the ugly crinkling of this cheap paper in my journal scans…)

     Welcome January visitors continued…

#challenge #journal #birds #artistic #journaling #experimental #artisticjournaling #lettering #drawing #art #watercolor #inspiration #gardening #practice #sketch #spring #landscape

There’s a first time for everything…? 1st journal page

While I’ve filled dozens of sketchbooks of all shapes and sizes , I’ve never before actually tackled doing a journal. It truly is intended to be a DAILY journal, but I’ve definitely fallen down in that category already. I am, however, keeping notes to go with my pages, so that when I get around to them I still have the story to go with the sketch. I ran across a “bird journal” idea and instantly recognized that it was a perfect fit for me! Yes, I have the closest I can come to a suburban bird santuary in my backyard-and absolutely love seeing them as they show up in the spring, keeping track of what and when! I’m not technically a bird watcher and am not that versed on all of the varieties and species, but they, along with my dozens of types of perennial plants, do bring such life and joy to my yard! Just sitting in my favorite spot watching and listening is wonderful!

Those things said, I’ll begin sharing my journal pages. Unfortunately, the journal I chose to use has horrible paper and I’m not very good at lettering. The lettering issue is one thing I hope to improve on as the work on my journal progresses; the paper issue is what it is (and if I can do eyes on printer paper, I should be able to make use of the poor paper in this journal – and choose more wisely next time)!

     January visitors – so much fun to see!

#challenge #journal #birds #artistic #journaling #experimental #artisticjournaling #lettering #drawing #art #watercolor #inspiration #gardening #practice #sketch #spring #landscape

How Time Flies…

Once the weather started improving, outside clean-up seems to have been my narrow focus. It’s not that I haven’t been doing anything artistic; it’s more that I have spent my limited time on small daily projects. For the month of April, I took on the Sea Lemon Eye Doodle Challenge (#sealemon – thank you for this unique challenge). It started with a printable file with the number, the name of animal and a small circle guide. I divided it into two sheets, which prints it a bit larger (1/2″ circles) giving more room to work. Watercolor on regular printer paper is an interesting challenge in itself! In addition to watercolor, I used whatever I needed to achieve my goal – including waterproof ink, white gouache and occasionally a white charcoal pencil. For the references, I simply searched for images since this is strictly a practice exercise, except for images 1, 2, 8 and 13 (my life “models”). If “the eyes are the windows to the soul”, then this practice is invaluable! It was also fun and interesting-and a real challenge in every sense of the word (artistically)! I mean, how often have you looked at the eye of a llama or a chameleon-I mean really looked at?! But, even if just in photos, that’s necessary to attempt to replicate an authentic-looking eye!

(One more thing-if you notice that “one of these things is not like the others” (day 8), it’s because I simply cannot look at a snake-not even in a picture-long enough to try to replicate any part of it!) 😝


Sealemon Eye Doodle April Challenge-collage, my completed eyes

 

#art #challenge #eyes #animals #birds #people #insects #sketch #drawing #experimental #watercolor #painting #pen and ink #cat #dog #practice #sealemon

My Day 15 finished-one of my favorite foods…

Since I wanted a bit of practice, I drew that lobster magnet, which as I said, was not intended to be a part of my 30 in 30, even though it ended up to be… This is what I ended up with and it takes me back to last month’s 20-30 minute painting challenge, since I finished this in less than 30 minutes. I guess that was good practice after all! This is also another one on the Moulin Du Roy rough watercolor paper, which I quite enjoy using! I love all the things I’m learning and all of my experimentation this month; hopefully it will stick with me and make me a better artist in the long run!

     Lobster on rough paper

(Reference photo from which I drew this lobster, Phil Wingate’s pile of lobsters photo on the Facebook group, Photos For Artists.)

#challenge #painting #watercolor #art #food #lobster #ocean #drawing #experimental #practice #shore #experimental

Day 12-oops, forgot to post it last night!

I wanted to work in at least one bird during the 30 in 30 challenge, then I thought something more exotic than typical backyard birds. So I searched my go-to legal-to-use reference sites and found an awesome Toucan photo. That’s another one I’ve never attempted before. Hand drawn, guided by the reference photo, watercolor on Moulin Du Roy rough watercolor paper (which is something else new to me and I really enjoyed using it). The title I have given this piece is a riff on the Froot Loops bird…

I strongly recommend not only challenging yourself to something like the 30 in 30, but also to different subject matter, styles and papers. I’ve only ever tried rough paper once before and, for some silly reason, didn’t use it again. Obviously it isn’t for every subject matter, but for this it worked great!

     “Just Call Me Sam”

(Thank you to Wendy Sinclair for sharing this wonderful photo!)

#watercolor #painting #art #exoticbirds #challenge #toucan #colorful #experimentalart #roughpaper

Day 9-another animal, just an aquatic one this time (no fur)!

This seal popping his head through the water’s surface-what a great photo. I have not tried to paint a seal before and water is always challenging to me, but that’s what this is all about – well challenging with new subject matter and to paint every day! It’s an amazing process and I’m so glad I signed up for this again!

     “Popping Up!”

(Photo credit to Jim Brown on Facebook’s Photos For Artists group page.)

My Day 4, a practice exercise

This one is something I just don’t do, but I saw a painting by an artist I admire and simply drew and attempted to paint a very small, 5.75″ x 3.75″, version, to give me practice blending on the paper and softening edges. I’ve done too little actual painting for too long and thought this was a project that would push me into doing a lot of both. With apologies to watercolor artist, Susan Crouch, here is my pratice piece, obviously with no title since it’s just emulating someone else’s art.

30 Paintings in 30 Days-Day 6

I find that I currently have so many ideas and reference photos that I’m struggling to choose! I’ve been looking over and over at the wonderful “Puffin” photos that have been shared on Photos for Artists on Facebook, thinking that they are such interesting, almost cute-looking birds and that I could paint one. So, I went through the photos and chose one, by photographer Harry Reid, that “spoke” to me. It was fun to draw and more fun to paint. Just figuring out the background is what I almost always struggle with. I have been attempting to somewhat emulate Bev Jozwiak’s style, not without problems! I was fortunate enough to participate in her workshop last fall when she was here. I learned so much, but if you take a workshop and then don’t continue to practice those methods, you lose a lot of what you learned. Having had so little painting time, that’s what happened with me, that and the fact that I wasn’t that good at following her method to begin with, after just three days. So, I’m trying to think back to watching her work and re-learn the style that I loved so much! I can only maybe do that by trying over and over… So, here is my version of the two Puffins photo –

sentry-duty-best-corrected-cropped-ps-72ppi-watermark   Day 6, “Sentry Duty”

Day 6, 30 Paintings in 30 Days, September 2016 challenge, original watercolor by Elaine Syth, © Fine Art by Elaine

World Watercolor Month July 2016-first ever!

I mentioned my participation in the first ever World Watercolor Month, July 2016 – and that I had finally finished everything on August 31. I photographed those quickly, as two pages at once, because these will become a hand-made book. I must explain that because I have had so little painting time for quite a while now, I used these small works as practice and experimentation. It really helps to get the feel of the brush in hand again, as well as the various brands of paper, the multiple paint brands and colors, etc.! So, here are two of the thirty pages, most of which were painted using other artists examples.

On the left is one of the first paintings I did for this challenge in early July. It is a white Peony and, for the moment, I cannot remember if I took the photo or used one I found in one of the various Facebook groups to which I belong. The groups I refer to are where photographic artists post photos and member artists are free to use any photo essentially for any purpose, but you must give the photographer credit. Once I dig deeper and find the reference photo, I will do so here! The peony was a study to practice painting a white flower. The painting on the right is my attempt to follow a demo by Joanne Boon Thomas, obviously a man in the rain. It is so very different from anything I usually paint and was a fun challenge. Hopefully now, when I need to portray someone in the rain, this will help me to do so!

Under Umbrella from Joanne Boon Thomas demo; White Peony from-can't remember where I got it

 

 

 

 

Floral Sketchbook Practice

5 minute practice sketch of Daffodils from book reference

IMG_20150313_113321_118-daffodils-straightened,cropped,brightenedPS-small to post

Again, a pen and ink page of sketches, this time referenced from my book, “20 Ways to Draw a Tulip and 44 Other Fabulous Flowers” by Lisa Congdon (http://www.amazon.com/Ways-Tulip-Other-Fabulous-Flowers/dp/159253886X). Daffodils are one of my very favorite flowers; they bring such sunny happiness to spring! Since my own daffodils are not in bloom yet – and it’s one flower that always gives me fits when attempting to draw/paint – I thought a little no-pre-drawing practice from this book was in order! Can you see the improvement happening as I work in this manner? I sure can! So, this is today’s sketchbook practice; not painted directly from live references, but still worthwhile practice!

art Before Breakfast again!

Thursday, 3-12, quick sketch of recycling bin at curb

IMG_20150312_114527_925-bluey sketch-straightened,cropped,brightenedPS-small to post

I has been a bit of a tough week, starting out on Monday with an urgent tooth extraction. The short version is – a botched root canal a number of years ago finally led to the demise of that particular molar, no matter how well I care for my teeth. The healing is going well, but the inevitable antibiotic has me feeling poorly, staying home taking it easy.

I guess that whole process has me somewhat out of the mood for painting, but I cannot ignore my art completely. Plus there is that wonderful “art Before Breakfast” book, which I did very quickly read cover to cover. While I’m not practicing exactly as is outlined in Danny Gregory’s book, I am working at filling the small accordion sketchbook I started with something each day. The sketches are not impressive, but it is a learning experience.

In this case, that learning is from just grabbing a Micron pen and going for it with whatever grabs my attention at that time, with no pencil pre-drawing. Even when I meet with my sketch group, I start with a pencil drawing, erasing and correcting things along the way. Then, when I’m happy enough with the sketch (and if there is still time since I work slowly), I will ink it and do a watercolor wash. I have many sketches done that way that I like, but it is a crutch and I need to learn to work directly! I hope that eventually, with enough practice, I will have that skill. I will still pre-draw for my paintings with a pencil, but that might just go more quickly and be more accurate the first time! The process I am practicing now can help me to become a much better artist overall and that’s what it’s all about!