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Birds Eye View No. 6

April 9, 2014
Hi All Artist Hearts,
As you can see I am well on the way to completing the Bird house for this painting. It is tucked in on the far left side of the garden and made entirely of old weathered driftwood.  It was fun to include this in the composition and have it nestled in amongst the flowers and rose leaves.  I still have a little more detailing left to complete for the wood grain on the walls and darken the shadow inside the entrance as well.

I used a very pale wash of Payne's Grey and a touch of sepia and reflected here and there some of the pinks from the surrounding, distant roses. It has taken several washes to gain this amount of depth to the wood, not only in the bird house itself, but the supporting posts as well. 

It was fun to work on our two visiting Blue Adonis butterflies.  This is rather fiddly work, especially the markings on their wings and their large black eyes outlined in white (the white of the paper that is, when using watercolors), but if you love detail work, then this will be a delight for you as it was for me.  The larger one of the two is complete now as is the pink rose it is fluttering over.  The rose petals are a soft blend of pinks and shadowy pale violets over a pale under-wash of New Gamboge.  The last details painted in were the golden yellow stamens.

It is always hard for me to start filling in the background textures and colors and still keep it soft and muted, but at least it is well started.  The picture has finally moved past the awkward stage and is really starting to take on that finished look.  I love this part of the transition where I can soon concentrate on the little details that begin to let the story behind the painting come forward and completes the journey for the viewer. 

Next post will help us see a section go from raw sketch to the final layers on the Purple Finch. With Spring this year comes the melting away of mountains of snow at last and the start of one of my favorite seasons, that of beautiful flowers!  What better time then to be approaching near the finishing line for our Watercolor series on "Bird's Eye View" than now.  Maybe it will help us through the last few cold spells until the lovely warmer weather arrives for good!  So until next time, stay inspired and paint what you love.  : > )

Birds Eye View No.5

March 24, 2014
Hello All Artist Hearts,
Well today we will consider the rescue issue of reconstructing the center rose that I spoke of last post and see how it all turned out.  It was definitely a challenge to remove the staining color enough to allow me to repaint the area and have it look natural, allowing for the additions of the various green leaves without red color ghosting through the greens.

I created a 3 part power clip of the actual progress from the original problem through to the final correction.  I have used a dotted line around the area that would remain as a small rose, and showing the parts outside of the dotted line that would be reshaped and eventually changed into about 6 new leaves and 2 new small rose buds.

As I very gently scrubbed and blotted away the staining colors of Alizarin Crimson and Permanent Rose they slowly began to lift off beautifully without disturbing the surface fibers of my paper, at least not visible to the naked eye and that was a good thing.  That was a big hurdle and once done I could breathe a sigh of relief. 

The next challenge was the redesigning of this area into differently shaped rose leaves so as to make the rose appear as if it was nestled in among those leaves and therefore no longer prominent.

I used various tones of green to create subtle transitions, show the different levels of growth age from new to mature as well as give the allusion of the different planes and angles for the new leaves. I was really pleased with the outcome and relieved that the composition looked more balanced once again.

Next time I will do another 3 part power clip for the Purple Finch so you can see the different stages of its development as well.  Until next time keep inspired and know that by the next post we should be well into Spring with warmer weather and the return of many of these delightful  birds.

Birds Eye View No. 4

February 17, 2014
Birds Eye View Watercolor by Jan Howlett Stage 4
Hi All Artist Hearts,
Well Bird's Eye View has come a long way with a lot more detail painted in.  The story line has more substance as well, but I can see a potential problem developing with the center bloom that needs attention.  As I study it I feel that this flower will command too much attention and if left as it is now will end up too close to the center of the composition and draw the eye, and I don't want that to happen.

So I have decided one way to correct this is to introduce some extra foliage to tone down the size of both the flower itself and the open span it creates that, if left unedited, would dominate the piece.  So in the next stage I will show how I rescued this issue.  It may be a risky move since it will probably require some careful removal of paint, but I need to attempt this correction as soon as possible.

I have also worked on more of the surrounding rose leaves and developed their veins and stems along with some of the shadowed areas as well. It has really added depth, contrast and rich tones by doing so. I mixed several different greens on the palette to capture the various summery greens I saw in my reference photos.  Then I started work on the blue Adonis butterfly and a bit of the sky (although the sky part is not showing in this photo) with a first wash of pale Cerulean Blue as well as a few of the tiny blue flowers sprinkled here and there in the background.

I also decided to start filling in some of the background grasses to help begin to anchor the scene down and get away from that "floating" look phase.  So it is a good start and I am happy with the work so far.

Until next time, enjoy your painting sessions and make it a learning journey.  Every painting is an adventure and can even lend itself to building new ideas for your next composition. Paint what you love.


Birds Eye View No. 3

January 25, 2014

Hi All Artist Hearts,
What a difference a few layers of paint can make! Today we can easily see that a number of pigmented wash layers are clearly bringing parts of this picture to life. I have worked a fair bit on the pink rose blooms, some of the shadowy parts of a partially hidden spent bloom and of course our sweet little Purple Finch.  And just for contrast I also added a few more of the deeper shadowed areas on the driftwood fence near the bird.

The blooms with their yellow under-wash have taken on a beautiful vibrant, soft glowing pink while the other smaller pink-mauve flowers are softer still and further back at this point.  Some of these blooms I think will eventually end up in the shadows and therefore more neutral so as not to command too much attention away from the main flowers.

I have been enjoying using my favorite Kolinsky Sable round brush and a couple of my very fine pointed brushes from Billy Showell's signature collection for the finer areas in the blooms. I can get lovely gorgeous soft edges with my Kolinsky and, when needed, crisp edges with Billy's. They hold terrific amounts of paint and saves me having to reload my brush unnecessarily when I am in the middle of an important and delicate pass.

Next time I will begin working on the center flowers, start the little Blue Adonis Butterfly, add a few of the tiny blue flowers tucked in here and there as well as start the soft Cerulean Blue in the lighter parts of the sky. I will also tackle a good number of the green leaves and continue to concentrate on their veins and textures along the way.

Until then, stay inspired and always paint what you love. It will show in your paintings and your viewers will be blessed and touched by your commitment and joy of painting.


Birds Eye View No. 2

December 23, 2013
Hi All Artists Hearts
First of all let me wish everyone a wonderful and blessed Christmas Season for 2013! It has been a very busy season for our family including further surgeries not only for myself, but now for my dear hubby, Ross as well.  So we are very content to spend it more quietly this year as we recover together and enjoy opening our gifts as we try to solve the clues on each package, continuing our Christmas tradition.  It is a lot of fun and in spite of really good clues we often cannot guess what is inside our beautifully wrapped gifts making them all the more delightful!
: > )

All that said, it has been later than I had hoped in posting this next stage of our painting.  However, you will see that many of the under-washes of Indian Yellow (a warm yellow) and Aureolin Yellow (a cool yellow) have been laid in on the rose leaves and some of the flower petals.  I decided to do a further wash of olive green over some of the leaves once the yellow wash had completely dried as well as laying in a wash of Payne's Grey on the old weathered drift wood fence posts including some shadowed areas. 

Normally this process would continue until all the leaf and rose petals are at the same level of completion to make sure it develops at the same rate. However, I may break my routine to hurry this demo along since it is such a large piece and I want to avoid a lot of repetition for you.  And I don't want this to turn into an extra long series.

The fun is in watching it all begin to "bloom" before my eyes and the beautiful flowers seem to invite me to "stop and smell the roses" as the saying goes.  I just love the process of adding the colors, all the various tones and shading passes that follow the shape of each petal creating the sense of soft roundness that helps us to really see the flower come to life.

Seeing the flat pencil sketch all of sudden transform into a three dimensional flower is magical and brings me a sense of wonder and joy, as well as a keen recognition that God's glorious creation and
beauty that we see in real life is His awesome handiwork! Just a few of the many gifts he bestows on us every day.  It causes me to worship the Lord afresh and give Him all the glory.  Such Love inspires this artist every day.

And especially at this Christmas Season when we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and the gift above all gifts, His amazing Gift of Eternal Life and Love and the Good News of Salvation that only He provides to all those who truly seek Him.  Jesus is the 'Reason for the Season' and we are so blessed to be able to know and walk with Jesus every day through His Holy Word.   

Until next time, may you have a precious and blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with joy and God's Peace.
Blessings to you all,

Birds Eye View No.1

November 11, 2013
Sketch:Bird's Eye View by Jan Howlett
Hi All Artists Hearts,
It's that time again when we start a brand new Art series. This time we will feature various textures from wood grain and feathers to soft rose petals and butterfly wings. We will also include dappled sunlight and shadows to bring out the depth and dimension within this scene. There is even a Lady Bug within eyesight of the Finch just to add a little drama to the day's activity.

Our working title for now is "Bird's Eye View," but it may well change to "Fair Havens Beauties".  But whatever we use, the title will help us paint a story using the view from the front porch of the Purple Finch's birdhouse and the surrounding beauty of God's creation that
she enjoys each summer. Admittedly there is a lot of detail in this sketch and it may seem overwhelming, but if we take one element at a time it will be easier to handle and very rewarding to see it develop.

This composition is based on a section of one of the beautiful Rose gardens at the Fair Havens Bible Conference grounds where we often enjoy a time of rest and relaxation and where I enjoy painting to my heart's content. It is also the same rose garden that inspired a similar little cameo painting I did for my dear Mom's 90th Birthday in 2012. 

In the rose gardens at Fair Havens they have some lovely ornate white iron 2 seat benches, unusual shaped driftwood pieces, bird baths and stone work.  I decided to insert the birdhouse in place of some of these garden ornaments and assigned the driftwood to a new role in the garden by promoting them to become the main fence posts in our setting. It's called Artistic license. :>)

This piece includes about 7 different photos taking various elements from each to create our story.

The original sketch posted here will take on several changes as I work through the painting itself and you will notice a correction on the perspective angle for the bird house along the way. 

This piece is 20" x 24" and painted on 140 lb. Arches Hot Press paper using transparent Schmincke and Windsor Newton fine artists watercolors.

There are several secondary focal points as well as the main focus area, that of the largest Rose.  Watch for the next post when I will lay in the first washes for the under-painting and then the fun with color begins.

Until then stay inspired and paint what you love.




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