Different Approaches to a Great White Heron

Great White Heron photograph
Great White Heron photograph by
Elise Beattie.

Painting Challenge

Our Fearless Painting class guru, Elise Beattie, has challenged us over the weekend. And, If we choose to accept this assignment, we will have to find impressive different approaches to painting this beautiful Great White Heron…. this challenge will self-destruct in 5 seconds.  This is some beautiful photography Elise Beattie!

Great White Heron Pen & Ink
Great White Heron Pen & Ink

Initially I do a quick  black and white study in my sketchbook with a gel pen (nothing special).

sketch Great White Heron
sketch of Great White Heron for a watercolor

I scrounge around in the studio to find a leftover piece of watercolor paper from a previous assignment to work on. This simply means there is a surprise ink drawing on the back of the sheet for anyone purchasing the image. Kind of a two for one prize. I decided on a much closer view for this Heron rendering in watercolor. The dimensions are taken off of my B&W sketch.

Proportional Divider
Drafting Proportional Divider

When I want accuracy, I have to grease those crazy artist mind gears. Breaking out a tool from the old drafting days will insure correct results twice as big on the watercolor paper. The tool I use is called a “Precision Deluxe Proportional Divider”  (made in Germany).

Would you like a tutorial about how to use this tool in another post on this blog? Leave me a comment if you do.

Proportional Divider in German
Prop Divider instructions in German

On the instruction sheet there are some real useful instructions in German on the flip side, just in case you were wondering.

I do anticipate making a third layout today using a different approach with acrylics on a canvas board, but I haven’t got there yet. But first, I need to finish my piano practice. 🙂

Plein Air painting at Riverfront Park

clock tower reference photo
clock tower

Spent the afternoon (Friday) plein air painting at Riverfront Park in Spokane WA.Painting outside in a beautiful park with friends. We were a group from the Spokane Watercolor Society who met near the clock tower at high noon. Sounds like the meet up at the OK corral doesn’t it?  It is amazing how many people use this park, it was full of people. They were a constant stream of people running, walking dogs, sitting and admiring the scenery.

Plein Air Off the Beaten Path

I was able to discover a great view of the tower a little off the beaten path, and overhead. It was truly sublime. Initially, trying to render that clock tower in an impressionistic manner proved impossible. Paintbrush sketches produced awkward, leaning towers. There are so many angles and doo-dads on that riverside brick tower with a clock. As a result, another tactic was required. Architectural subjects need accuracy, don’t they? Finally, resorting to using the old artist pencil measure trick with outstretched arm, got the job done.  It was worth it to take the time to do that sketch. The layout is in pencil now, and ready to work on in the studio. I took a ton of photos, to be able to finish it up.

clock tower above sketch
clock tower sketch

Second Painting Location

pavilion reference photo
pavilion willow photo
pavilion willow
pavilion with willow

I joined the gang from SWS at the ground level down by the river next. Next to Gay W., I found a great view of the pavilion cables over the ice rink, that had a willow tree getting orange branches in spring. What a vision. Hope it comes out, cause it was quite a cool view. Luckily, I was able to get some washes down before I had to pack up and leave.

Artist Thoughts…

Unfortunately, there was a man playing the bongos next to the river. I kept thinking, he needs to get some other musicians to sing and play instruments with him to break up the monotony. The “bong, bong, bong” started to get on my nerves later in the afternoon, so, I cut the outing short.

While spending the day in that beautiful riverside park I noticed a sad thing. There were couples and friends sitting or walking together, not looking at each other or the view, but instead looking at their phones.

What is with that?

Going to a beautiful park, to walk and sit next to the river with beautiful waterfalls cascading all around. Then choosing to enter into oblivion? Are we loosing our humanity by getting together, to ignore each other and nature’s beauty around us? 

As a society, are we so addicted to “blue screen” time that we miss important things?

In conclusion, this Friday painting day outside in the warm air was a beautiful nature wonderful “artist date”!

Real Life Mural Painting

Background Paint

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This is big painting in real life on a long wall 40’-0” wide by 10’-0” high (400 sq ft) at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah WA. There are columns, a doorway along with a storage cabinet to avoid. Some planning and adjustment to accommodate the obstacles is required. As explained in the previous post, I am following a basic chaulk layout drawn on the wall. I will paint any electrical conduit encountered to try and achieve a synonymous feel across the image.

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Obstacle Courses In Real Life

Obstacles are real life. I sometimes have to modify curves after I step back and see they are not matching up. You actually loose sight enough by the column to think you have it right till you get down and step back. Take a look on the right side of the column where the chaulk line is a little off already. I guess if I stayed within the lines I’d have less of these types of adjustments to make but I do tend to get a little free arm swinging when painting large and I absolutely love it.

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Progressing over the doorway and around the fire alarm, the mountains appear in the distance on the wall. Sometimes it seems hard to make the image stay continuous when divided by columns and other things but, I find that I simply ignore them. If I paint as if those items are not there, the image feels uninterrupted.

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 The next two sections of wall have their backgrounds laid in going towards the last wall corner. You can see how the lines need to read across the columns. When I reach the cabinet in the corner the background stops at the side, continuing over only the top of it.

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WALL “C” is 12’-0” wide by 10’-0” high (120 sq ft) which is the area where the cash register is manned. At the end of the day the last wall’s background is laid in here but not yet complete.

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