Hello there! Hope you are all enjoying beautiful weather the way that we here in Illinois are!
I would like to introduce you to a new friend that came into my life a couple of years ago. We met at an Artist Reception, I with an oil painted portrait and Loretta with her floral watercolor. We just seemed to hit it off, and, as happens, we are very supportive of each other.
When I asked Loretta if she would be interested in a post she was all for it. I will let her, Loretta Hamilton, speak for herself and introduce you to her style.
Since spring is here…finally…this seems to go hand in hand with getting our creative juices flowing! So here is something to inspire you if you’re interested in watercolor painting. I have just started to switch from painting florals (which I love) to painting birds and animals (which I love also…but just haven’t tried painting much). But now that I’m into it, I find it to be lots of fun. So what could be better than the quirky face of an ostrich for starters?!
I always suggest that when using watercolors for the first time, it is best to purchase a few very good items. Getting the best quality paper and the best brand watercolor paints (you really only need yellow, red and blue) and one or two really good brushes makes all the difference between success and failure.
For this painting, I used Lowell Cornell brushes #26 and #14; and a Kolinsky Sable #6 and #4. I used a variety of colors that I have on my palette, including Vertider Blue, Indigo, Burnt Sienna, Mineral Violet, Permanent Magenta and Quinacradone Burnt Orange. But you can always use your primary color paints to mix a variety of these types of shades for a fraction of the cost. I also use Arches 300# watercolor paper…I like the blocks the best. The Arches 140# paper is also fine.
Step 1: I usually use a photo reference for my paintings. If you decide to do that as well, I suggest using a good photo that highlights your subject with the proper lighting and clarity. Don’t forget that you can use artistic license and if there is something you’d like to change within the composition…do it. You’re the artist…you get to decide! Once you have your photo reference, lightly pencil sketch the subject onto your watercolor paper which is what I did here…
Step 2: I usually mask my whites so that I can save them as the painting develops (remember, no use of white paint in watercolors!). I use commercial liquid masking available at most art supply stores and apply with a colour shaper, flat or pointed tip. And I always start with painting the eyes. If the eyes don’t turn out right, the rest of the painting will not be good. So here I painted the eyes first and I thought they looked OK and continued on…
Step 3: I painted the beak next, and the nostrils…I started applying color lightly, and then darkened the areas where I saw shadows. (The nostrils are very dark and require many applications. Black is not used in watercolor and even the grey w/c paint is pretty flat, so I mix my own darks.) Then I started painting the layers of feathers, letting each layer dry thoroughly in between applications (and I’m very impatient, so I have to work really hard at the “waiting game”). I also applied clear water in long feathery strokes outside of the bird’s head so that when I added pigment, it ran into the water strokes and carried color into those wisps of hair. Holding the paper at an angle to let the water flow into the waterways is a great way to accomplish this…
Step 4: I finished up on all of the feathers and continued to layer more paint in the shadows…especially the feathers around the “eye lids”. I also continued to paint the neck and layered a bit of other color into areas here and there, using a touch of Permanent Magenta for highlights…
Step 5: I removed the masking and softened the edges around the white areas with a wet #4 brush. As I examined my almost-finished project, I decided I didn’t like how light the area around the beak on the bird’s right side was…so I darkened it a tad. I also splattered a bit of paint around for added whimsy…looks like the ostrich has kicked up a little dust…
Hope you enjoyed these steps to painting “Otis”!
…..Thank you, Loretta! Hope to see you again at an upcoming show!
Have a great day!
Loretta J. Hamilton
6 Attached Images