Sanhill Crane Quartet

Sanhill Crane Quartet
OIl on 18x24 inch canvas

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Juvenile Scarlet Ibis

This piece was executed using Derwent and CarbOtello pastel pencils on 12 x 16 Canson Mi-Tientes pastel paper. Because pastels are so much faster than oils and acrylics, and I was so intent driven by this piece, I didn't stop to take photos of my progress. I did stop a couple of times to stretch my legs and took the following photos. Prints and more are available through Fine Art America.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Koi Pond

The initial drawing of the Koi Pond on the 126 x 16 inch canvas. 

First I laid in the water using Payne's Gray and Titanium White.

Next I used Sap Green to paint the lily pad and frog. 

Next I paint the lily pad on the left and the lotus. I add a touch of Payne's Gray on the Koi on the right.


Then I paint in the stones in the front corners of the canvas. I used Burnt Umber.

And now I am filling in the colored patches on the Koi using Cadmium Orange Hue and Cadmium Red.

Here I add more color and detail to the fish and lily pads.

Now I paint in the greenery with Sap Green.

I used Cadmium Yellow Medium to highlight the the plant.

I begin the glazing of the water used Sap Green and a fast drying medium.

Another layer of Sap Green glaze is added.

Next, I added Cadmium Red and Cadmium Orange glaze to the patches of color on the Koi and did some more touch ups on the Frog. 

And now the painting is complete but still tacky. When the canvas is dry, I'll varnish it to be sure any hotspots are covered. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Visitor

The Visitor is oil on 16 x 20 inch canvas. I used Winsor Newton water mixable oil paints and Liquin fast drying medium. This painting depicts an Orange Tang happening upon three different types of Clown Fish. The one in the foreground is the Tomato Clown Fish. The one in the center is the Ocillaris Clown Fish. The fish in the background was only identified as a Clown Fish in the photos I downloaded from Wildlife Reference Photos. The painting was glazed with magenta and cadmium yellow medium. I know it's not easy to see the changes from the glazing in the paintings but the most obvious changes, although subtle, are in the background and the Orange Tang Fish. 

This is the original compostion I created using watercolor on 15 x 20 Crescent illustration board. I wasn't happy with it so I stopped working on it. But I loved the composition so I elected to rework the piece in oil on canvas. 

I didn't bother posting the canvas with the drawing because my photos weren't good enough. Iused water to thin the initial layer of color for the background. The colors were magenta, sap green and cadmium yellow medium.

At this point I had painted in anenome in shades of brown and created a crystaline effect on the coral background using titanium white. I added all of the eyes as markers. The Orange Tang and the Clown Fish have been painted in but not completed.

The next level of anenome are painted in magenta using white to highlight and and a touch of sap green mixed in with the magenta to create shadow. 

The Orange Tang and the Clown Fish received more detailed treatment. 

The Ocillaris Clown Fish is beginning to take shape here.

Work continues on the Ocillaris Clown Fish and the yellow anenome is painted in. I used cadmium yellow medium for the anenome and blended in a mixture of sap green and cadmium yellow medium to create a darker hue for shading.

The Tomato Clown Fish is painted and the composition is showing the depth I had hoped for in the watercolor painting. Now it's time to glaze. Well, it will be when the paint is dry.

I used a touch of magenta dissolved in Liquin Fast Drying Medium to glaze the background and then did the same with the cadmium yellow medium to glaze the rest of the background and the entire body of the Orange Tang Fish.

I continued to use the yellow glaze on the brown and yellow anenome and the fish. The magenta glaze coated the center anenome. I also used this glaze on the darker areas of the Tomato Clown Fish. 

The painting is nearly complete. I just need to sign it. In a few days I'll varnish the painting.

The positioning of the Clown Fish, lower right up to just left of center in reduced sizes gives the illusion of depth and dimension.  The use of a limited pallette of contrasting colors makes the fish and anenome appear to be separated by space. The focus of their eyes on the Tang creates an expectation that something is there. I could easily have changed the proportion of the elements of this painting by inserting the snout of a larger fish, say a shark. There's this rule of thirds in composition that helps to create a scene more pleasing to the eye. The section of coral behind the Orange Tang and the fish itself is on the left third of the canvas. The eye is drawn from the Tang to the furthest Clown fish, to the center fish the the largest fish and into the center of magenta anenome creates a number 6 in the composition. 

Prints and more are available at Fine Art America.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Lion Fish in Watercolor Pencil

This lovely and not so ferocious looking Lion Fish (which I think should have been name the Tiger Fish) was completed using Derwent Watercolor Pencils on 140lb 12 x 12 inch watercolor paper. This is my first try with this medium in 15 years. I didn't like it then, or perhaps I wasn't using them correctly, but this time around I like it. Not quite as vivid as the Derwent Inktense but it seems to me to be a perfect fit for tropical fish. This painting is available in print form and more at Fine Art America.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Three Amigos

My latest painting is a portrait of three blue and yellow macaws resting on a long branch. I named them the Three Amigos at my friend Jamie's suggestion. It seemed to fit so I ran with it.  This is oil on a 12 x 24 inch canvas. I used Winsor Newton water mixable paints which I really enjoy working with. Somehow clean up is easier and the painting experience is the same. Win-win.

Here is how my painting grew.  I painted the background with a mixture of Sap Green and Viridian and smoothed it a bit with a mop brush.  I painted the bottom of the branch with Dioxazine Purple to be sure there would be a nice sharp edge and color contrast even though it would be covered with browns.

Next I added stalks of grass (of unknown origin) with Viridian. The branch was painted with Indian Red and Raw Umber and touches of Titanium White.  The background is nearly complete. There will be some touch ups and changes in the near final painting. The reference photo I used was purchased from Wild Life Reference Photos.

I used Indian Red, Cadmium Orange Hue and Cadmium Yellow Hue along with Titanium White on the feathers of the body.

The wings and heads were painted with Prussian Blue and Titanium White. I used Winsor Newton fast drying medium as my thinner.  It really does reduce drying time.

As I continued to work on the facial features of the Three Amigos I struggled with just one issue. The macaw on the left (as we view the painting) had a beak that was a bit larger than it should have been. 

Adding more feathers to his head didn't really help much. I tried painting it out with green but it just kept returning to the larger size. Around this point I was unhappy with the yellow. It wasn't vibrant enough so I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up a tube of Cadmium Yellow Medium to correct the situation. I really wanted these birds to have a presence.

Finally, I covered the bottom of the beak with a mixture of Sap Green and Titanium White and Viridian. I shortened the beak just enough to make the head seem balanced. Then I used this color mixture to add and over paint the grass. This way it looked as though I had planned it that way all along. 

This is a close-up of the macaw with the larger beak.

This is a close up of the macaw with the smaller beak. The difference in size seems negligible but made a big difference to me.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Barn Owl

I've just completed a portrait of a lovely Barn Owl. I used Derwent Soft Drawing pencils on Canson pastel paper (12 x 16 inches).

Monday, January 22, 2018


This pastel, "Conversation", was executed with soft pastel block and pencils on black Canson pastel paper.  It took three days to complete and I enjoyed everyone of them, vascilating between wanting to finish the piece and wanting it to go on forever, or at least a little longer.  Some people think pastels are messy and, to a certain extent, they are the only thing that gets messy are my fingers and my blending stumps.  That's what soap and water is for. Not the stumps. I sand the stumps.  Water warps the paper.

This drawing is about 18 x 24 inches. I had to trim down a larger piece of paper. And here it is.....

Prints and other products are available at Fine Art American.

The following photos are the progression of my work from almost beginning to end.