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!

Blue-Feathered bird series: Peacock Portrait

Continuing the blue-feathered bird series I completed the other week, this Peacock Portrait is the fifth acrylic painting. A close-up head study of this beautiful crested bird, I feel I was able to capture a small (but significant) bit of why I love to look at these birds. Yes, I know they can be noisy, but they really are pretty and make a challenging subject to draw or paint.

Peacock Portrait acrylic painting
Peacock Portrait, 9 by 12 inch acrylic painting on primed paper, $100 USD (shipping extra)

Thoughts on Peacock Portrait

This is actually the first time I have attempted to draw or paint peafowl, believe it or not. This was part of the six day “blue” themed challenge, so something about an art challenge feels like permission to try things I might feel intimidating; permission to push my boundaries and try new subjects and media. The part of painting a peacock that feels most challenging is trying to capture the elusive, shimmering iridescence of the feathers, without going too far and having your bird look more like sunlight sparkling on water.

Purchase information for this painting

This painting scanned nicely, so if you want a larger print you can get that through my Pixels store. If you want it on some RedBubble swag, the scan works well there also. The original is 9 inch by 12 inch unframed, and if you want that, you can puchase via the page at Daily PaintWorks, which uses PayPal.

I’ve made up some graphics for social media showing this in a frame on a wall, and it looks fabulous. While I wouldn’t have white walls or furniture, that setting actually shows off the vibrancy of the acrylic paint. I certainly would do a neutral color frame, and this grey has just the right hint of blue to be perfect. The mockup image is courtesy of Pixels, where you can get that exact frame.

mock-up of Peacock Portrait framed and on a white wall
Peacock Portrait framed and on a white wall

Christmas Candle still life drawing

I did another Christmas card artwork sooner rather than later, and yes this is related to another art challenge. The theme was not announced until the evening prior, and the prompt was, “after dark.” I have actually intended to do this holiday-themed still life for a while now, and just hadn’t sat down and done more than just a rough sketch and obtain a good reference photo. This turned out to be the perfect excuse to just do it. What I’ve had in mind is a Christmas-themed still life arrangement with a lighted candle, and for the level of detail I wanted to capture, colored pencils are best. I may not use them nearly as much as my other media, but when I do it is for something specific and detailed.

Christmas Candle still life drawing in only white on black paper for a minimalist look
Christmas Candle, white on black first stage 12 x 9 inch –

I stopped long enough to scan the image in white-on-black, just in case I was still not satisfied with the coloring-in by bedtime. Surprisingly, several of my fellow artists and challenge participants like this better than the final color version. Comments received so far include “surprising,” “minimalist,” and just plain “cool.” I do not have an original for this version for obvious reasons, but I could probably make one if requested. I only have this version up at my Pixels site for prints and even cards.

Adding color to the drawing

I have to confess, I expected the coloring-in phase to be more of a battle than it was. I often say, “Sometimes you’re the windshield; sometimes you’re the bug,” and yesterday went smooth enough to qualify as being the windshield. The black paper has a laid texture to it, and is made for charcoal and soft pastel, so it didn’t take the colored pencil as fully as smooth paper would, but I like the effect and will be using it again. If you would like to own the original, you may purchase through Daily Paintworks here.

Colored pencil on black paper, Christmas Candle still life with pine cones and colored lights
Christmas Candle, colored pencil still life on black paper, 12 x 9 inches, $100 USD

I do love how the pinecones turned out! Y’all will likely never see my first attempt at drawing a pinecone, which is probably for the best. The colors pop against the black background so nicely. Finally, the contrast between the still life objects in focus and the colored lights being completely out-of-focus in the background came out just as I had hoped. Prints and cards are at the Pixels store, while apparel and accessories are at RedBubble.

So, time to ask your input: which version do you like better, and why? Should I do up a new white-on-black version? I suppose I ought to joke, “Asking for a friend.”

Christmas Card Art, Part One

The days are beginning to get shorter here in the northern hemisphere, which means it is time to get ready for the upcoming holiday season that kicks off with Halloween and ends with the New Year. Here at the beginning of August, it means it is time to think about what design you want on your Christmas cards! I have two paintings from last year, both five by seven inches, both ornaments hanging on the tree that I have not blogged yet to go along with my Winter Snowman watercolor painting also from last year.

This was actually a test of a company’s watercolor paper; the red one is on hot press and the blue one on cold press, which really matters more to me as the artist than anyone who doesn’t paint. (The brand is Legion’s Stonehenge Aqua, for other artists reading this who may be wondering.) I painted them side by side, and was pleased with how both turned out, and it gave me a good idea of what to expect from each … along with two cheery and festive paintings that both look just right for cards!

Blue Ornament, watercolor painting on paper, 5x7 inch
Blue Ornament, 5 x 7 inch watercolor painting

Both originals are currently available for $35 USD each either in person or through Daily Paintworks, and are the perfect size to fit inside most greeting card envelopes. Prints and card pack for the blue ornament are available at this page on my Pixels site, and for apparel, small prints, and cards through RedBubble click here.

Red Ornament, 5x7 inch watercolor painting on paper
Red Ornament, 5 x 7 inch watercolor painting

For the red ornament, here is the link to prints and cards at Pixels, while the RedBubble link is here. As usual, outside links will open into a new window/tab.

As for why I have titled this post “part one,” I plan to paint more designs for greeting cards through the year and for more holidays as well, so keep an eye here for the newest ones!

Red Tulips watercolor painting

I am still catching up here on this new blog, and today I am spotlighting my red tulips painting, done in watercolor in an Impressionistic style, using eye-catching red and green on white watercolor paper. This piece makes for an interesting contrast to the more exact Johnny-Jump-Ups I also painted in watercolor.

Inspiration behind the painting

These were a certain sign of spring when I was growing up in Indiana.  Previous occupants had planted both red and yellow tulips in between the decorative shrubs, and these would bloom even before the purple irises on either side of the back gate. Our house and garage were both white, with a light gray concrete foundation, so when I stumbled upon this reference photo showing red tulips against a white background, I knew I had found the perfect photo for me.

As a child, I remember being fascinated by the cup shape of the fully open tulip flowers. As an adult artist, I now find myself more interested in the tulip buds as they are opening. This is likely because of the promise and potential inherent in opening flower buds, and what could better embody the promise of spring than flower buds as they are just starting to open?

red tulip buds opening against a white wall, watercolor painting on paper
Red Tulips, 9 x 12 inch watercolor painting on paper, original available $100 USD

Purchase information for Red Tulips

The original is 9 by 12 inches, sealed with Dorland’s wax to protect against humidity and spills, and I can ship to buyers outside the region also.  Prints are available at my Pixels store, and accessories are at my RedBubble store. My personal favorite accessory is this painting on the front of a spiral notebook, available at both Pixels and RedBubble.