Thursday, November 26, 2020

red poll warbler

On a birdwatching walk last week I just missed out on seeing one of these. Too many birders, not enough sightlines.


I added a light wash and threw some white spatter on ... because I can't control myself!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

house sparrows

Lots of these guys in my yard, at the feeders, hiding in the ivy, honeysuckle, and Virginia creeper vines.
I stand outside the back door and take their picture.

Monday, November 23, 2020

holiday cards


A couple of moderately successful holiday cards attempts.
In both cases I'm  mostly just annoyed with myself for not keep the white background pristine! 
Thinking about adding a flat wash to the first one. What've I got to lose.

.                               4x6
And this one will get a redo. Messed up the beak ... and, in this pose, it was important to get it right!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

lady cardinal


Another lady cardinal, in a sweet pose.

And my first holiday card. Holly is one of my favorite seasonal subjects. Was going for a gray background ... but made it a little too green, which led to a problem choosing the leaf color.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

house sparrow

The most common sparrow in my yard. There are dozens, and I enjoy their chattering.


A quick little study of one of my cats, Arya.
It didn't work out as I planned because--and, annoyingly, I never know till I get started--this paper was uncooperative: the colors sunk in rather than mingling on the surface.
I guess my method depends a lot on mingling!
But, it's just a study, so ...

Friday, November 20, 2020

song sparrow


I painted this ref photo once before; a friend has that painting.
Worked a little wetter this time, which I like especially for streaky breast patterns, and tried to add a suggestion of greenery.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

to the bay


From a photo I took near my house.
In the last few years, the township has been installing post-and-rail fences at the entrances to the beach. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

lady cardinal


I love the female cardinal, the variety and subtlety of her coloration.
"Subtle" is not my strength, but she makes me look close and think about color mixes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

beach scene


My first sustained effort in a while.
I was considering adding another layer--mostly to darken the foliage on the left--but decided against it because that area is already overworked, and I didn't think the paper could take it, either.
But I do like this scene, a photo I took this summer, and I would like to find a way to paint dune fences that, as the best paintings of them, imho, seem to do, bounces between positive and negative, sometimes painting the fence, sometimes painting what's behind it, so I'll be painting it again.

Monday, November 16, 2020

tree sketch


I love bare trees, all the winding branches and twigs, the shadows and cast shadows.


From my sketchbook.
Pencil, watercolor, and black Tombow pen.
Exploring techniques for depicting birds.
I like this approach--it looks fresh. The little pop of black from the Tombow pen really enhances the effect.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

more birds

Sketchbook pages: mockingbird, titmouse, Baltimore oriole.
I always forget how enjoyable pencil sketching is. 
What I have a harder time with is coming up with the bird's surroundings--how much to add? where? how much to simplify?

Trying to put this oriole in a wintery scene ... needs some work still.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

carolina wren

Another small study, painted without any preliminary drawing.
The paper is not so great, but I think I could go in and add some details, maybe.
Birds on the brain lately. Went on a lovely bird walk this morning; and I've started drawing some birds, thinking of painting them.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

eastern towhee

I've been a little frustrated with my bird paintings recently: they look to me flat, cut-out, uninteresting ... which is no fun.
Tonight on a sketchbook page I painted three little goldfinches: a yellow wash with black added when it dried.
Then, again without drawing first, painted this towhee. And though his eye is a little lower than it should be, I'm actually pleased.
Maybe most of all because I'm hoping I've broken the bad spell.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

fishing boat


We"ve been having mild days, with foggy, diffusely pink mornings.
I had a couple of these boat paintings sketched out but really messed up the graded wash!
So, starting over ... This ones a bit weak, to my eye. But it's just the first.
Went birding yesterday morning and the light was just beautiful.

Friday, October 30, 2020



This didn't turn out the way I envisioned it, but I think next time I'll get closer.
The first error was I chose the wrong paper. Actually, I did four drawings--all subjects requiring wet, flowing washes-- on paper I pulled from a Kilimanjaro sample pack, assuming it was 140 lb, but once the paper got wet (and floppy and wouldn't hold more pigment), I began to suspect it was 90 lb.
My storm clouds started off too intensely blue violet. (Can't lay off the smalt!) Adding burnt umber helped.
I am pretty happy with green section, mostly with the little whites I left, though it could be darker.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020



It's been so long since I last painted! I tell myself I will; I think about subjects, but then ... Finally, for some reason, this morning I managed to paint!
I'm not sure if this is done (I think not), but it's close.
Hope I can keep it up.

Started off by doing a little "warmup" painting of two apples.
I read or heard this advice, to begin with a warmup, somewhere (maybe from Angela Fehr?) and I think it helps: gets me in the frame of mind and blunts the fear.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

grassy sound


A quick, wet sketch. 
I wanted to see if I could unfussily paint the dock that runs alongside the buildings ... a thing I usually angst over and ruin.
This time it turned out pretty well, I think, using a 2-step process: the first go was a skipping mid-value wash leaving bits of white; second go, some strong darks.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

ring-billed gulls

Another from one of my photos.
Overworked it a bit, but it's okay: this is just practice. Hope to do it larger, where I'll have more room for details in the eyes, beaks, and wings.
One thing I do really like is that blue and ochre bloom on the bottom left!

herring gull


From a photo I took.
A lot of people around here dislike gulls because they are such scavengers; they tear up bags of garbage people put out.
You know what I dont like? People who dont secure their garbage!
I like the gulls just fine. I think they're beautiful.

Monday, July 27, 2020



A couple more oystercatchers.

Sunday, July 26, 2020



Very humid here, so I got a lot of fuzzy edges, but the humidity also allowed me to keep dropping color into the darks to make them darker.

Saturday, July 25, 2020



I visited a nearby gallery with my friend Gina this week and saw some lovely, simple watercolors of shorebirds.
Made me want to paint!
Starting off with one of my favorites, the American oystercatcher.
I may go back and add some dry brush texture to the wing; overworked the chest and wound up having to add a schmear of white gouache.