Thursday, August 13, 2009

Caspian Terns--Finished

It's time for the last installment in our little painting class. Watercolors go pretty quickly!


Here, I’m playing with bounce light on the birds. I want some of the mauve and pink tones from the underlying sand playing up on the birds. They’re standing in shallow water. I figure the sand colors just under the water’s surface would be bouncing up on their underparts. So I feed mauve and pink into their bellies and underparts. This helps tie the bright red bills into the painting and keeps it all from looking too sterile.

I lay the tracing paper outline of the magazine cover over the painting to make sure it’s all going to work with the text. Looks OK.


Once again, I was flying, and unwilling to stop long enough to photograph the birds as I worked

on them.tern8

By now, it's almost evening, and the light is gone, but I shot a photo anyway. It looks blue, but don't worry--I haven't taken a blue wash over everything.

I’ve gone with a Billy Idol ‘do for the forward-facing bird. This is a pair of birds who are greeting each other with extended wrists and erect crests, something Caspian terns do. Howdy. Nice hair. Right back at ya. Ak ak ak ak ak.

To get the strong sidelight I wanted, I had to really play up the shadows. I adore painting white birds, and terns in particular, because white is such an expressive slate on which to play with subtle colors. It’s amazing what you can do to it and still have it read as white.


For instance, I decided that those shiny red bills would probably be sending bounce light onto the birds’ necks and breasts, so I went with that, sending a pinkish glow down their throats. Why not? If you can’t be playful when you paint, why do it?

I think I’m done. Gotta quit before it all gets too picky.


I hope you've enjoyed seeing this painting come to life.

If you'd like to order a signed, limited edition print of Sidelight: Caspian Terns, click here. And click on Limited Edition Prints.

I will sign it for you, inscribe it, and send it to you. I hope that this series has inspired the painters and dreamers. I know you're out there.

Psst. Just DO it! Paint, I mean.

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