Pink flamingoes in watercolor

So, I intended to do up a flamingoes watercolor painting roundup when I noticed I only blogged about two of my six paintings last year. Oops! It’s high time I fix that, so grab a beverage and some popcorn (if you like popcorn and your husband hasn’t yet eaten it all) and let me get caught up on my favorite pink-feathered birds.

As I mentioned last year while it was happening, this was for a seven day challenge that had the theme of liquid. I naturally decided to use watercolor paint as my medium for the entire week, and picked out seven reference photos of flamingoes in or near water, and my Flapping Flamingo was the first one I painted. I fell behind on the blogging portion of the challenge, resurfacing to post my favorite of the series, Flamingo in Rippled Water, which y’all will recognize as one of the artworks that won first place in last autumn’s VA Healthcare system regional competition. When I finished up the challenge with a beachscape, I mentioned I would upload the others “soon.” I suppose less than a year can sort-of count as “soon,” in a certain light.

Very pink flamingo

For the second painting of the series, I did up this one I just call Wading Flamingo. I seriously doubt I will ever win any recognition for naming my art, but that doesn’t really bother me so I keep naming things with an obvious title. While this one isn’t really my favorite of the bunch, I have heard from a few folks who saw it and liked it. One artist also participating in the challenge said it was her favorite of the set. Like all the other flamingo paintings, this is on 9 by 12 inch watercolor paper, and prints are available. The page at my RedBubble swag shop is here.

Wading Flamingo watercolor painting
Wading Flamingo, 9 by 12 inch watercolor on paper, $100 USD available

Fun flamingo pose

Third in this series, and my second favorite overall, is this much more subdued version I call Curious Flamingo. My husband says flamingoes have such expressive faces, and that expression often looks startled, but I have found some nice ref photos where the bird looks not-startled, like this one. It still looks almost silly, the way this flamingo has cocked its head just so, but the overall effect with the less-saturated colors just work for me. Also on 9 by 12 inch watercolor paper, with prints available in larger sizes. Link to the RedBubble swag shop here.

Curious Flamingo watercolor painting
Curious Flamingo, 9 by 12 inch watercolor on paper, $100 USD available

Flamingoes on the beach

For my fourth flamingo watercolor painting, I managed to salvage something workable from what at the time looked like very much the disaster. After a couple days of touch-and-go, my masking fluid finally tore the (bleep) out of my paper. I was furious, went on Facebook and asked in a watercolor artists’ group for a better brand than what I was using. Once armed with a brand name that was recommended, I placed an order that very evening for what I now use, which is Pebeo drawing gum. As for the painting, which I was originally going to call Beachcombing Flamingoes but instead titled Impressionist Flamingoes … I totally intended for it to be done in an Impressionist style. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I am still a bit ambivalent about the idea of selling the original due to the damage to the paper’s surface, but it scanned well and I uploaded it to RedBubble for apparel and accessories. Prints in various sizes are available.

Impressionist Flamingoes, was intended to be called Beachcombing Flamingoes
Impressionist Flamingoes, 9 by 12 inch watercolor

Pale flamingo

Pale Flamingo is as its title suggests, and a pale pink on the flamingo’s feathers while it feeds in shallow pale blue water. The black of the beak and tail feathers provides sharp contrast with all the pale versions of color, and this one was identified as another artist’s favorite of the series. The contrast is certainly eye-catching. The original is also on 9 by 12 inch watercolor paper, and prints are available from my Pixels store, while the RedBubble swag is located here.

Pale Flamingo watercolor painting
Pale Flamingo, 9 by 12 inch watercolor on paper, $100 USD available

So this gets me finally caught up on my flamingo series of watercolor paintings, which means it’s about time I painted and drew some new flamingo artwork. I’ll need to finish a few pieces on the easels – yes, I now have multiple easels to hold my works-in-progress – and one of those just happens to be a flamingo.

Feature Friday 2: Florida wild flowers

Another quiet week on my blog reader, but April can be a busy time of the year. Just a couple links to share, then I will inflict my personal (ahem) “style” of photography on y’all, because I had ample opportunity to whip out the little digicam yesterday on our trip in to the feed store, and there are so many pretty wildflowers blooming around my little rural corner of our county.

But first, some real photography from Deb Beausoliel who blogs at Beautiful Sun, a translation of her family name. Her topic (after a big fall last month) is sunrises, which being a morning person she prefers over sunsets just because she has them mostly to herself. Now, as a painter who wields brush and pencil instead of camera, I can say with all certainty that capturing a sunrise or sunset is mostly the domain of photographers, unless a painter has an almost-photographic visual memory or such an encompassing grasp of light and shadow to work from imagination. I probably could not even make a mess with my soft pastels fast enough to capture the perfect moment of optimal color in the sky and how the light hits the surrounding land without the light shifting before I could get it on paper. When I do a sunrise or sunset work, I use a reference photo to “hold” the light still so I can work out the perfect colors and get the surrounding landscape shadows correct. Photos may not always capture what the eye sees, but it can get it close enough when a photographer knows what she or he is doing – and I can definitely work with that.

Local Florida wildflowers

As fun as a skyscape or cloudscape or sunrise/set picture can be, right now my inspiration is a lot more down-to-earth: there is a new series of wildflowers blooming around the property and along the sides of the roads on the way into town, and I do not really know what they are called, and Google image search has been not-exactly helpful. Apparently, I need to upload the snapshots online before I can use Google Lens, since I do not own a touchscreen device. As my son used to say back when he was in high school, “Le sigh.” These are likely called weeds by the local population, but I still want to figure out what they are so I can title drawings and paintings with a little more detail than, “pretty flowering weed in my Florida yard.” Here is the one I tried to look up on Google, which gave me two different names depending on which photo I used, and both names were genus names with almost 500 species each, so between my two attempts to identify this plant I have over 900 possibilities.

medium blue-violet trumpet-shaped wild flower here in Florida, called the Carolina wild petunia
delicate blue-violet to lavender flowers, approximately an inch in diameter, now identified as Carolina wild petunia

When hubby took a snapshot of one of these plants from above to get the five-lobed shape as the focus, Google first tried to say it was in the campanula genus, commonly called bellflower. The problem with that is in the above snapshot I took this morning, which clearly shows the flowers having a trumpet shape, not bell. The above snapshot returned gentian genus as its result, and while it does look similar, all the online sources for gentians say they bloom usually September to December, except one species which has the common name spring gentian but doesn’t look like this. Perhaps I should only use the digicam for reference photos, and try to identify local flowers after I’ve drawn and/or painted them in a botanical style?

Update: This has been identified as Carolina wild petunia, which is native to most of the southeastern US.

The other flowers I really want to draw and paint are along the paved county road heading back from town. Yesterday, with critter food in the truck bed, and Mexican food in the cab with us, I persuaded hubby to pull off the road for a couple minutes to snap some photos of these lovely fuchsia colored flowers:

bright fuchsia-pink wild phlox
eye-catching small fuchsia colored flowers, identified as a wild phlox species native to Florida

There were actually a couple other variations of this flower all around me: one variation had white in the center instead of a darker fuchsia, and another had the lighter color as the middle with the darker as the outer color. These flowers are a little smaller than an inch in diameter, and I had the worst time seeing the screen on the digicam just because it was sunny and bright. I didn’t spend too much time with it, because our lunch from the little family run Mexican restaurant smelled delicious (and it was) and I knew hubby’s stomach was growling.

Update: These bright pink wildflowers are a native wild phlox species, with the natural variety.

A pair of peahens wandering around

Finally, the reason I pulled out my digicam at the feed store for the second week in a row (remember the gorgeous purple morning glory blooms last week?) is right here:

a pair of peahens walking around a parking lot
a pair of peahens hanging around the feed store
a pair of peahens, perhaps a bit camera-shy as they walk away when the camera comes out
they must be camera shy peahens, as they went out the door and around the building when they heard the digicam turn on

The employees and owner of the feed store had been putting a little bit of scratch out for them, and since it was a lovely mild day the doors were propped open and the two peahens actually walked into the store, but turned and immediately left when they heard my digicam turn on. I remarked it was a bit of a shame, because with the backlighting from the door I could see the iridescent blue of their neck and shoulder feathers so nicely. On the drive though town from the feed store, while I was looking at the digicam’s screen, hubby commented, “And there is the peacock,” but traffic was moving too fast for me to try to snap a pic of him. Ah well, there are plenty of photos of peacocks on the various royalty-free stock photo sites, but finding photos of the peahens is not as easy, and I’ve been thinking of doing another peafowl painting sometime this summer to go with my Peacock Portrait acrylic sketch from last year.

We did go get our new goat on Monday, and are once again on kidding watch as she is due soon, which means I’ll get to do the whole bottle-feeding a baby goat routine again. The bright side to this is I now have tinted charcoal to use for my drawings, so here’s hoping I can get some good cat-free drawing time. Maybe I’ll even be able to identify these wildflowers (or flowering weeds) I have blooming around me this week.

First place, TWICE!

Apparently, last evening after I had checked my email for the night, I received not one but TWO emails with the subject line saying, “Congratulations from the North Florida/South Georgia VA Healthcare system.” I immediately knew what it was: I had entered the NFSG’s Creative Arts Festival competition. In fact, I had sent in three entries, as I had artwork for three categories listed: watercolor, monochromatic drawing, and multicolor drawing. Both emails informed me I had won FIRST PLACE in the watercolor and monochromatic drawing categories, and my entries will be automatically advanced to the national level to represent our region.

digital certificate of my two awards
The pdf attachment of my award – both looked the same

The image in a pdf file was just the icing on the cake, so to speak. Yes, both attachments were the same, but I really am still feeling a bit too jazzed about taking top spot two out of three times to quibble. Now, what did I enter? Interestingly enough, all three entries were the result of various art challenges I participated in over the summer (entry deadline was at the end of August).

First, the one that didn’t place: my colored pencil on black paper Christmas Candle, which happens to be my friend Keashia’s current favorite. In the watercolor category, I entered one of my favorites, Flamingo in Rippled Water. I need to do up an “on the easel” post for the 16 by 20 inch acrylic painting I am working on, based off this watercolor, but that can wait for another day. And in the monochromatic drawing, I entered my Dew on a Calla Lily piece, which is my favorite from the black and white challenge.

The emails mentioned the regional coordinator is putting together a showcase of the winners scheduled for December, and I am very interested in that … so the two winning pieces have been placed on hold and will not be available to ship or be picked up until after that. I’ve amended the listing for Flamingo in Rippled Water over at Daily Paintworks, and have not listed the calla lily drawing yet. I suppose that technically I could sell these, but hold them until after the winners’ showcase. Eh, it’s not an issue yet, but right now I am quite thrilled, as this is the first time placing in an art competition since I was a schoolkid. Hmm, it’s also the first one I’ve entered in about as long. Either way – I won first place, twice!

Dew on a Calla Lily, white pencil on black paper
Dew on a Calla Lily, white pencil on black paper, 9 by 12 inches
Flamingo in Rippled Water, watercolor painting
Flamingo in Rippled Water, watercolor on paper, 12 by 9 inches

Bald Eagle head study in white on black

A head study of a noble bald eagle, worked in white colored pencil on black paper. This is actually the third in my white-on-black series, and the only bird in the series, and is itself a continuation of a page from my sketchbook (if you want a print of the sketchbook page, grid still on it, I have that uploaded to my Pixels store here). As a shortcut, I transferred the outline over to my black paper, and while I am extremely pleased with how the eye turned out, I am not so sure about the rest of the drawing. I just cannot pin down what seems off to me, though I do know exactly what I did that made the eye suddenly look so lifelike, so on that point this drawing is a success.

head study drawing of a bald eagle, 12 x 9 inch
Bald Eagle, white on black 9 by 12 inches, $80 USD (available)

Thoughts on this drawing

Not every image is suited to being rendered in white on black. Some look better as black on white, and others just don’t look right either way. After doing this in white on black, I decided I would rather have done it in charcoal, preferably on a warm white or sand-beige toned paper, with white pastel pencil to do the highlights. This being a strict black and white challenge meant I’ll have to get around to that idea later. This drawing did convince me that my white-on-black is best suited for white flowers with strong shadows, so that is what the others (save the last) are. I still really like how the eagle’s eye turned out, a week later. I suppose an all-white bird might work with this style, so that is something to revisit later perhaps.

The original of this is available, if interested you can purchase through Daily Paintworks. Prints are at my Pixels store, while apparel and accessories are up at RedBubble.

Scarlet Macaws have Blue Feathers Also

I am finally finishing up my six day blue-feathered bird series from the other week, with a pair of scarlet macaws. Personally, I’ve always thought we should call them rainbow macaws, because while most of their feathers are a lovely shade of scarlet red, they also have bright yellow, vivid green, and brilliant blue feathers, as you can see from their multicolored backs. They are certainly one of the brightest colored parrots.

Rainbow Macaws, a pair of scarlet macaws sitting on a branch with a green background
Rainbow Macaws, 11 by 14 inches acrylic on paper, original available, $140 USD

I was extremely pleased with how the tree limb perch came out, although getting the scarlet red with shading was a challenge. In retrospect, I think the green background is not quite right, and probably needed to be toned down a bit more. The birds themselves look more Impressionist style than realist, but since this was for an art challenge I had a (self-imposed) time limit on how much I could fiddle with it. Being the last day of the art challenge, I was not inclined to drop out to fuss over it. As usual, prints are at my Pixels store, while swag and accessories are at RedBubble. If you are interested in the original, you can purchase easily through Daily Paintworks.

Thoughts on this art challenge

I have to say that I am loving these art challenges organized on an art forum that I participate on. I particularly love the themed challenges, as it feels more like a group activity, instead of just me as a solitary artist trying to capture fleeting images from my mind. I remember that one semester of drawing I took in the autumn of 1991 in Texas, where there were about forty of us situated around the large room, all drawing the same objects in the center, but from forty different angles and by forty different hands. I like to listen to an art podcast while doing it, which reinforces that feeling, as we used to discuss the drawing subject while we did it.

I have finished another art challenge, seven days with the theme of “black and white,” and will be starting a shorter three days (“anything goes” non-theme) tomorrow. I may even get caught up over this week, as I am planning to redo at least two of the images I did for the black and white challenge, in color on stretched canvas, but in a different aspect ratio – 8 by 10 inches instead of 9 by 12 inches all the black and white drawings are.

Stay tuned for the next two challenges!