Great Blue Heron: Acrylic study

Day four of the six-day art challenge with the theme “blue,” which I narrowed down to “blue-feathered birds,” was a difficult one for me. Not because of the subject nor the medium – I had picked out a great blue heron to do and had my acrylic paints in the perfect colors already – but my back decided to act up in a most uncomfortable way.

A good sketch to start painting

I was actually quite excited and enthusiastic about this painting in the early stages. First, the sketch went smoothly. The paint went on evenly for the sky, then I started painting the sea with three or four shades of blue to give the appearance of waves rolling in from the horizon. I painted the handrail after that, and was even more pleased with how well it resembled weathered wood.

Great Blue Heron, acrylic sketch n 11 x 14 inch primed paper
Great Blue Heron, 11 x 14 inch acrylic on paper study, prints only

Painting the great blue heron

Painting the heron proved to be not QUITE as easy as I anticipated. I mixed shades of the blue-gray, dabbled a bit of brown in some for the neck, and still was not satisfied as my back began to really hurt. I didn’t want to drop out again, since I had dropped out of the “green” challenge a couple weeks ago when my second piece needed more work than I had done in one day. Then, I had the idea to lighten the sky and see if that made the colors and shades on the heron work.

An easy solution – repaint the sky

It did! I felt like I dodged a bullet there. I started to do a little more on the heron, then noticed the white of the paper showing around the bird’s feet. Ugh – I hadn’t painted close enough on the wooden railing. At this point, I said , “Good enough!” and scanned it for the challenge then went to lay down for two hours.

As I was laying down, I decided I would NOT finish this piece. Instead, I will be doing it again, in oil paint on a traditional stretched canvas. Since the stretched canvases don’t scan as well as flat canvases, panels, and paper do, there will be no prints of the painting to come, nor any of the fun little accessories with the painting printed on them. So, the oil original will truly be an original, and the only prints will be of this acrylic study on paper, available through my Pixels store. (After some thought, I am now offering up the original acrylic sketch to purchase through Daily PaintWorks.)

I’ll try to post the fifth in the blue-feathered bird series tomorrow, depending on weather – satellite internet gets fussy during thunderstorms.

Blue and Gold Macaw painting

I have finished the series of six blue-feathered bird paintings, although I did fall behind on blogging them in a timely manner. I hope to get caught up before I start my next series. Here is the third blue-feathered bird, the blue and gold macaw parrot, also done in acrylic paint.

Blue and Gold Macaw, 11 x 14 inch acrylic painting
Blue and Gold Macaw, 14 by 11 inch acrylic painting on paper, $140 USD (available)

He looks like quite a cheerful and playful parrot, as he cocks his head to one side while looking at the camera (for the reference photo). He is probably someone’s beloved pet, and the main change I made from the reference photograph was to take out the concrete and chain-link fence in the background and just use a muted orange for a background color. I think I caught the macaw’s expression, and spent quite a bit of time on the eye, face, and patch of green feathers on top of the head.

Out of all the parrots, I like macaws best as subjects for drawings and paintings. They have the most brilliant colors in some very saturated hues, and the color combinations are so pretty. Often, they seem to have character and charisma. I have already done the hyacinth macaw, and there is one more macaw to come (already painted).

For those who want a print of this painting, those are available at my Pixels store. If you prefer to wear your art, or have it as usable accessories, check out the RedBubble store. If you want the original you can purchase through Daily PaintWorks, and if out of my area I can ship.

Until tomorrow!

Eastern Bluebird acrylic painting

The second of the six-day blue art challenge, which I narrowed down to blue-feathered birds painted in acrylic, is this male Eastern Bluebird. He sits atop a simple wooden birdhouse, and the yellow-green background complements his rusty red-orange breast as the midmorning sun warms his blue back. The color scheme in this painting may be simple, but it is effective in that the blue and orange are opposite on the color wheel, while green harmonizes with both.

Eastern Bluebird, acrylic painting on paper of a male bluebird sitting atop a wood birdhouse
Eastern Bluebird, 12 x 9 inch acrylic on paper, original available for $100 USD

Thoughts on the acrylic paint

I am still getting accustomed to acrylic paint’s characteristics, especially how quickly it dries – not only compared to oils, but it seems to me that it dries even faster than watercolor. There is also more of a color shift as it dries compared to my watercolor paints. For this series, I am using a line of craft paints my husband has used for more than a decade, so I can ask him about any issues I have. (The brand is by Plaid, maker of Mod Podge, and goes under the names Apple Barrel and Folk Art and is available at Wal-Mart here in the US.) I feel like I am doing a bit better with it, which is enough encouragement to continue with this new-to-me medium.

Thoughts on the drawing and painting process

Looking at this painting after some time has passed, I could probably have done a better job on my initial sketch, particularly where the bird’s feet rest on the birdhouse. I also think I made the head a little too small to fit the rest of the bluebird’s body, but it is a subtle thing that I didn’t notice until the painting was completely dry. I do love the natural color scheme of this bird species – especially the more brightly-colored males – and hope to find another good photo reference to do another in the future.

Purchase links for Eastern Bluebird

Prints are at my Pixels store, and assorted accessories at RedBubble for those who want. The original acrylic painting on primed paper is now listed at my gallery at Daily Paintworks, and is still available for $100 USD plus shipping.

Meanwhile, I have started painting blue-feathered bird number three …

Blue-Feathered Bird Series: Hyacinth Macaw

I have started another art challenge on one of the art forums I read, and this one is six artworks in six days with the theme of “blue.” I have narrowed that down for myself to be blue-feathered birds (I like doing a theme within the theme, like my flamingoes series), and have found a variety of reference photos to work from with the first being the bluest of blue-feathered birds I have ever seen, the hyacinth macaw. I’ve actually been looking forward to painting this bird,, especially this happy youngster who posed so nicely.

hyacinth macaw, acrylic painting in my blue-feathered bird series
Hyacinth Macaw, 14 x 11 inch acrylic on paper, $140 USD original available

I have seen these birds in person before at zoos, and they really are that brilliant a shade of blue. In the sunlight, they are a close match to my tubes of ultramarine blue. I did this in acrylic paint, having succumbed to an impulse buy at WalMart on Friday and coming home with a 12 bottle set of acrylic paints marketed to the crafters, but my husband likes to use on his little figurines that he paints. I think I like them as well. This is only my second acrylic painting I’ve done myself (excluding one my husband helped me with – I’ll need to blog that one as well!) and I am pleased with it.

Along with the original being available through Daily PaintWorks, I have prints at my Pixels store and the usual swag at Redbubble. My favorite bit of swag at RedBubble is the analog clock, with my happy little hyacinth macaw acrylic painting as the clock face.

Hyacinth Macaw as a clock face – available at RedBubble

I intend to post up my challenge series the morning after I complete a painting, since I feel as though I write easier in the late morning. Until tomorrow!

Flamingo in Rippled Water watercolor painting

I did complete the seven day art challenge, even if I didn’t post everything here.  In all, I have six flamingo paintings and one beach sunrise painting, all in watercolor. This is the flamingo painting I like best of the six, although others have said they prefer another from the series … but that is probably why we are all individual people!

watercolor painting Flamingo in Rippled Water
Flamingo in Rippled Water. 9×12 inch watercolor on paper, original available

A pink flamingo feeds in rippled blue-green water along the shore, with its feathers and the water ripples catching the early morning sun light.  This is a twelve by nine inch watercolor painting on watercolor paper.

The (unframed) original painting is available, sealed with art wax and in a plastic sleeve to protect it, for $125 USD.  Prints are available at my Pixels store, and accessories and apparel at my RedBubble store.

Award-winning watercolor painting

Update: I entered this painting into two art contests. The first was the inaugural art competition in the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans’ Healthcare System Creative Arts Festival (say that one fast) and it took first place in the watercolor division, though it did not place at the national level. We veterans tend to be quite the talented bunch. The second time was in March 2022, when I entered in my local county fair. The judge bumped it up to the professional category, and awarded me a red ribbon (which had a prize of $2.00!). Considering the Best in Show went to someone in the youth category, and that will look great on a college application, I have no regrets.

I should probably note I am working on repainting this on a 16×20 inch stretched canvas. I have the layout done, and a thin layer of acrylic as the base because charcoal and graphite tend to rub off canvas. Watch for a further post on this piece, which will be a one-of-a-kind since my scanner can only fit 11×17 inches, so there will be no prints of it.

Let me read this to you

I am trying something fun: recording myself reading the blog post (with a little extra) as a podcast. Listen here.