Hi folks, just passing on some great news, I have three paintings I submitted to be juried for the Miniature Painters, Sculptors + Gravers Society in Washington DC and all were accepted! Yay! The three paintings I entered are following, click on each to see them larger in my gallery and more details about each. I even have links there to blog posts about how I painted them, have a look!
Here is a direct quote from their website about the society: “The Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers Society of Washington, DC, (MPSGS) was founded in 1931 by Alyn Williams (1865-1941), a well-known portrait miniaturist. The MPSGS is the oldest Miniature Art Society in the U.S. It is the second oldest in the world next to the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers in London, England–the world’s first Miniature Art Society also founded by Mr. Williams. The Inaugural Exhibition of the MPSGS of Washington, DC, was held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in December 1931. The Society has held exhibitions annually for 71 years with the exception of the years 1932 and 1942.”
Let me know if you live in the DC area and are going to the show. I’ll be unable to attend as I’ll still be in England.
My finished miniature watercolor painting of a Great Grey Owl, measuring a mere 2″x2″! Be sure to check it out in my Owl Gallery too. It’s an owl named “Aspen” that I photographed at the Keilder Water Bird of Prey Centre in Northumberland England. I’ll show you the stages of painting and talk about how I did it below.
"Great Grey Owl" -first washes
This shows the first stages of painting, the beginning washes to lay down the values, color hue and expression of the painting. I first started with a light sketch in pencil, lifting it as much as I could with a kneaded rubber eraser before painting. Then I painted the washes and sprinkled salt on wet areas to see how it would ‘pull’ the color and create interesting patterns. It is at this stage of the painting that you can get a feel for how the painting will go, will you be loose and expressive? Will you go for more details? Sometimes I think we have to let our intuition guide us, or perhaps our mood.
First wash set up
This picture shows you my set up for the first washes, I always start flat on the table so the color doesn’t run. Many times on larger paintings I stand up and work loosely with my brush. (check out this short Utube video of me working on the “Screech Owl” painting, it shows how I paint loosely when standing). This set up shows my photo reference to the left, the salt above that, then my field palette to the right because I’m right handed, the water bowl above that. I keep a white paper towel folded nearby for wiping off excess water and it allows me to see if there’s paint left on my brush. You see my magnifying lamp which I find good because the light is cool and matches daylight; but I don’t use the magnifier on it as I find it clumsy to use my brushes under it and I bump into all the time when I lean in super close! Sometimes I use a hand held magnifying glass or you’ll see pictures later of my glasses.
Great Grey Owl -stage 3
Now here in stage 3 you see I’ve jumped ahead with lots of details and color. As you work, squint your eyes at the photo and your painting to catch large areas of value that need to be developed and notice color hues. At one point I felt my owl was too brown so I washed a very watered down blue grey over areas, but only on very dry areas. In areas you need to lighten you can either lift color with a damp brush and blot with a paper towel, or you can add it using white watercolor or gauche mixed with your paint colors.
Now on purpose I’m going to point out some things that I found to be unsatisfactory in my painting and I changed. At stage 3 here, I felt like I did a pretty nice painting! I was feeling like it was done, ah….no such luck. If you let it sit a day or two and return to it, or if you show it with the photo reference to a friend with a sharp eye, they’ll be sure to catch something ‘off’ with it. If you’re a conscientious artist, you’ll be bothered by it until you fix it and you probably already knew it was wrong to begin with but wanted to ignore it! Well lets just say my boyfriend has a good eye, sigh, well now he ‘did’ pick me didn’t he? We both agreed the beak wasn’t right, I pointed it out to him then when he agreed it was back to the easel with it. I can’t believe how much I was able to amend the beak being that this is watercolor after all. People are afraid of watercolor because they think it’s unforgiving, wait until you see the changes I made.
Great Grey Owl -stage 4
Stage 4 shows the beak changed, I totally moved the angle of it and lengthened it! (see the enlargements below of these final stages too) If you take a damp brush and gently re-wet an area, and only the area you want to fix, you can then repeatedly rub it gently with a damp brush tip, blot it with a clean paper towel (I prefer Viva!) then clean your brush, wipe it off and repeat. Do this over and over, you’ll be amazed at how much you can lift. When I repainted the beak I thought like an oil painter, I laid down a more opaque yellow layer to clean and brighten the beak, then I kept putting washes over this dry layer to affect the color. It ended up with an unusual translucent look like a real beak would have.
As I did this, of course I started to notice other areas I wanted to improve upon. Sigh…such is the plight of an artist with a picky eye! Notice the area of light tan below his beak, I needed to bring out the lightness of it so I added white watercolor to some cad.yellow, and browns to create a tint for an underlayer. Another note about this painting, next time I will pick a much smoother paper, working with this much detail you need to keep your paper super smooth with no distracting texture.
Great Grey Owl -stage 5
Stage 5 shows how I painted detail on top of the tan area under the beak and the beak has more details added. The owl has an overall lighter look, this is because I kept stroking on little feathers with a tint of whitish blue grey to add detail. Now I thought I was done here, but remember that boyfriend of mine with the good eye? Well he helped me notice I had painted out the nostril! SIGH….yes, when I was adding the little hairs by the beak I must have done that so back to the easel. The picture at the beginning of the post is the final stage, fixed and finished!
Working with my magnifying glasses
This is me working with my reading glasses on and a little set of clip on magnifier lenses. In the photo I have the magnifying lenses lifted up so I can look at the paints in front of me, if they were down I’d need to get much closer to see what I was doing. So I would lift the lenses up when I would sit back a bit and take a look at the ‘whole’ painting and the photo, looking for areas that need attention. Then I’d flip them back down and get close for the detail painting. I wouldn’t use them for the initial stages of painting, you don’t want to focus on details at that point.
Also you notice here my setup is different than before, I have another pan of watercolors and have them set up on some jars so they are closer to my painting. Working with a tiny brush ( 10/0 liner) it dries out super fast and keeping my pallet nearer seemed to help. The nice thing about working on a miniature painting was being able to mix small amounts of color right in the pan lid. (the brush in the picture is not my liner brush)
The pictures below are so you can look at one section close up to see the changes I made to the beak and area around it.
Great Grey Owl close up detail stage 3
Great Grey Owl close up detail stage 4
Great Grey Owl close up detail stage 5
Great Grey Owl -close up detail finished
I hope you’ve enjoyed my post about my painting. I looked forward to showing you my mistakes and how I fixed things as I painted because this is how it goes, it’s a process and doesn’t always go as easy as it looks. I like to encourage my students and others to keep looking at their paintings for more detail but most of all a good beginning drawing is crucial. As you can see here, I missed the beak angle and had to fix it later, but the more you paint and draw the better you’ll be at catching these things in your work. That’s my two cents! Please leave me some comments and if you are interested in note card or prints please let me know.
For the fun of it, here’s some Utube links with owls!
Today I painted this miniature watercolor of some wetlands in England. It measures only 2.25″ x 4.25″, yes it’s a wee tiny thing! I have some pictures from England I want to work from sitting on my kitchen table; so this morning as my oatmeal and coffee got cold, I did this little painting. Here’s a picture of one of my tiny travel kits, this one is set up with my ‘Altoids’ watercolor kit. I have small watercolor brushes that I cut the handles off of so they are short and fit in my kit. The watercolor kit or box is stuck into a metal pencil case that I can use to mix my colors and hold the paper and watercup at the same time. It’s a great little set up, and I like keeping it handy at the table. I did the Snowy Egret in the last post using this kit, but just drew with my inktense watersoluble pencil, not watercolors.
This painting will be up for sale soon after it returns from a show in Washington DC, soon I’ll have a picture of it framed on my gallery page of it.
This is a miniature painting of a Snowy Egret done in Inktense Watersoluble Ink Pencil, black. It’s very small, 2.25″ x 3.25″ and I used just water and a small brush to wet the pencil as I worked. I wanted to keep it fresh looking with pencil scribbles showing and blotches of ink. I like the dynamics of that, reminds me more of nature sometimes rather than a perfectly and meticulously painted peice.
When you work with inktense pencils you can either rub at the lines with a wet brush to eliminate the pencil marks or brush lighter to leave them there. Also if you draw on wet paper be forwarned it will draw very dark and quite permanent! The properties of these pencils are such that if you let the worked area dry it will be more permanent than watercolor pencils or watercolor. You can work over it without lifting the colors. I enjoy their boldness and the mixture of water media and dry media.
Well I decided that I’d concentrate on birds of prey amongst all the other nature stuff I’m painting. It’s great to concentrate on a particular subject for awhile; you’ll learn more information as you read about it, visit locations where it can be studied in real life and ask questions of those who know more than you about your subject.
This little (3.5″x3.5″) watercolor painting is a warm up for a larger painting I want to do in oil. I am working from photographs by my photographer friend Gene Witkowski (of Buffalo) from when we went to the Sterling Renaissance Festival three years ago. (wow has it been that long??) After that I became a full time artisan there but never had time to go visit the acts and see the owls or joust first hand. So now I use the invaluable photos. The oil painting I’m going to do is a full size pose of this owl named Boo, sitting on the gloved hand of his owner Jenn, who did the bird of prey show.
She told me he was an African Eagle Owl, now that I read about the Eagle Owls, I’ve learned he is indeed an Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) and that the ones found in Africa would be smaller and greyer as he is. I wondered because as I read about them it says they are brown mostly, and mine was not. Another fact I never knew, our Great Horned Owl is an Eagle Owl, Cool!
Below shows my set up as I worked, I put a masonite drawing board on top of a tv tray table and this is where I plunk myself sometimes to work near the woodstove. Ahhhh, you can’t beat that heat when it’s freezing outside! I limited myself to my field palette of watercolors and yes, I had to use the reading glasses! An invaluable tool when working on tiny paintings!
In this post I bring you two owls, both are Barn Owls but look very different. The first is a sketch of a Barn Owl from the United States, the typical light heart shaped face and brown markings on the feathers. I think the same species is what you see in the UK, but theirs are slightly different in color or size. I need to research this further! (a note from me…I did put this up in a post back in August, but this shows it scanned in much clearer and the framed version.)
I used watersoluble graphite (graphitint) color pencils to do it, and a waterbrush to blend and make washes with the drawn lines. The property I like about watercolor type pencils is how you can leave the drawn lines if you like, it give a certain texture. If you don’t like that, just rub it a little more with the brush tip and it will all go to wash. The original sketch is only 2.5″ x 3.5″ big; it’s already been sold but I do have mini framed prints of it available, note cards and 8×10 handsigned prints. The original sketch is only 2.5″ x 3.5″ big; it’s already been sold but I do have mini framed prints available (shown below), note cards and 8×10 handsigned prints. This owl below is an Ashy Faced Barn Owl, an owl I never heard of until I visited the Kielder Water Bird of Prey Centre in Northumberland England. The owner let me take pictures of their owl, telling me it’s an uncommon bird even in England. It’s a young owl, you can see some of the down poking out from the feathers still. It’s dark face contrasted by it’s golden feathers were fascinating to look at! I looked it up in my two huge owl books and can’t find it in there, time to research this one more also!
This tiny painting was done exclusivly with watercolors and a tiny brush, it measures 2.5″ x 3″. The original has sold but I have tiny framed prints (shown below) available and note cards. Just email me to inquire: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a tiny little watercolor painting I did on New Year’s Eve morning, while drinking my coffee and looking out the back studio window. It measures a mere 2.5 x 3.5″. You can see below a photo I took while working, but I put the tin down to take the photo. I painted it while standing and holding this little set-up in my left hand. It’s a pencil case that I stick my “Altoids” watercolor kit in using blue tack or sticky tack, and the same for the tiny watercup. I also use the tack to hold two brushes at the ready on the side; I use the metal area under the paint kit to mix colors. This set up works well for small paintings and studies.
It was a full moon a few nights before, so tonight as I saw the glow of the moon trying to come to fruition behind the clouds…I was hopeful of some good moon gazing. Hmmm….no such luck. It started to show promise as I saw a curious yellow glow in the clouds, so I grabbed my tiny Altoids watercolor kit, my reading light and very small watercolor field kit.
I set up in my bathroom where it’s extra dark when the door is closed and tried to paint quickly in the dark. I didn’t have anything to put my piece of paper on, so I held the little thing in my hand and the watercolor kit also; it was not a great set up but I was in a hurry!
Yes, it was quite dark, I could hardly see the colors I was using but I wanted to really see the moon and didn’t want the distraction of the light. So as it slipped quickly away behind a dark veil of clouds, I just painted from memory and it was ok. It’s only after when you turn on the lights and let the colors and wetness finish their ‘melding’ that you’ll see what you’ve got. It’s kind of fun! This one is only 3.5″x2.5″ on watercolor paper.
Well, late last night, I just had to play with my new little watercolor field kit I put together. I love making up new kit ideas to carry my art stuff around in.
A picture of it all packed up, it only stands 6″ tall and 4″ wide.
Here it is with all the contents laid out, can you believe how much stuff I can fit inside it?
For the painting, I actually painted it while laying on the bedroom floor! Sometimes I think I’m just a kid in grown up clothes, doing things I would have done when I was younger. In College I painted using an old bread board on the floor, all the time! I had no desk in my apartment and it was just easier.
Well, back to my tiny watercolor. It’s only 3 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ big! I used little brushes and the tiny little cup for water. I didn’t start with any drawing, I just started painting, looking for the shapes and laid them in lightly. As I started to add the face details, that’s when I checked using comparative measurements, where her mouth, nose, eyes all fell. Then I pulled the hood down a tad before putting it’s green color on.
Below, I added the background wash and more on the hood, washing some background blue onto the green of the hood. I lightened the eyes also, touching them up. And then darkened the shadows.
Last is the finished little painting. I worked on hair details more, adding some burnt sienna to add warm darker tones and more hair strands. I painted some purple in the shadow on her chest near my signature. The purple was a nice choice, darkened without making it look dirty colored. I added more greens and a light wash of cadmium yellow to the upper hood to warm it up. The hood on the left side (shadow side) got only blue washes. I added some darks on her upper chest and washed over her shoulder, then lifted the highlight by dabbing a clean paper towel after wetting the paper repeatedly. Then after deciding the eyes were as good as I wanted them, (sometimes a hard thing to let go of) I added a tiny white highlight with a dot of white watercolor paint. Finished little beauty!! Hope you like it!
I brought my small art kit with me while on a road trip to the Sterling Renaissance Festival in Sterling NY. , of course I wasn’t the driver! I experimented with drawing with my new graphitint watersoluble graphite pencils, They are colored but not as intense as watercolor pencils. I did the drawing then wet it with my waterbrush, this brings out the intensity of the colors. You can manipulate the values this way and if you like, work back into the drawing wet or dry. They’re very interesting and I am looking forward to trying them for more drawings. I took a couple pictures of them with my tiny digital camera, since I’m nowhere near my scanner, forgive the not so great color and clarity! The “Barn Owl” measures a wee 2″x2″! It was a bit challenging to do with the bumpy road.
This little landscape measures aproximately 4″x5″ and is of the road we traveled. It was a great day for clouds, the only problem I had was making the line on the road. The set of pencils I bought has no yellow. You can notice that I made little color tests along the margins of the drawing.
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