Spring Song (Apple blossoms and Prairie Warbler)


Strengthened a few colors here and there:

Spring Song

Spring Song

Finished Painting – Spring Song

Spring Song

                  For the warbler, the first layers are in DS hansa yellow medium and the next ones have a bit of DS new gamboge to get a darker value. The spots are put in wet-in-wet with a dull red mix. Add shadows with a dark brown mix under the wing and feather groups. The nest is in various shades of brown, after putting in a few squiggles and lines with masking fluid to save the lighter colored twigs:

Spring Song

my painting so far..


apple blossoms

                      The rest of the blossoms have been painted the same way as the previous ones. I have faded out the flowers as they move towards the left, to stop the eye from going out of the picture. So that there is not an abrupt jump from detailed and high contrast area (1) to no-detail and less contrast area (3), there is a middle zone (2) where there is somewhat of a detail:

apple blossoms

apple blossoms

               For the branch, mix some new gamboge to your violet (shadow) mix to get a pale brown, lay in wet-on-wet and before this layer dries, add a shadow on the underside with a darker (i.e less-diluted) mix of the same color. As it starts to dry, you can add some knots and lines with a detail brush.

painting the apple blossoms


apple blossoms

                 Apple blossoms are usually pink as buds and then start turning white as they flower; a few varieties are actually dark pink and some have just the edges that are pink and those are what I´ve chosen to paint. My photograph has the light coming directly overhead and the painting has it falling from the left, so I´ve changed the lighting accordingly for the flowers and leaves. As you are modelling each petal , imagine the direction of the light and ask yourself whether the area that you are painting will catch the light or fall in shadow.

                  For the first layer (protect the stamens with masking fluid), paint in all the form shadows first; I simply made up the folds and creases on the petals. Make a mix of the red and blue to get a violet and add yellow to dull the violet to a shadow color. Wet each petal separately, wait for a few seconds for the water to sink into the paper and lay in your shadow mix. After all these layers have completely dried, wet the petals again one by one and touch the edges of the petals with your red mix, as this starts to dry add the veins with a a slightly more concentrated red. The shape of the veins are very important as they suggest the form of the petal. The shadows that you have put in the first layer should show through in the next layer if you are using a transparent red; you can further define these shadows with a red-violet mix. I like this Cheap Joe´s Lizards Lick brush (in the photo above) a lot for painting fine details like veins etc, it has a sharp point and also has a good body of hairs at the top so you don´t have to load the brush so often. Remove the masking after everything´s thoroughly dried and paint fine shadows on the undersides of the stamens, paint the pollen with DS new gamboge and put tiny shadows in them:

layers for flowers

                 The leaves are a mix of the two yellows and phthalo blue and a hint of the red:

layers for leaves

painting the background

I put masking fluid with a masking pen, to protect the edges of the foreground. Let it dry thoroughly before starting to paint. The colors are DS hansa yellow medium, DS new gamboge, MG phthalo blue and S ruby red. Wet the background applying water evenly so that there are no puddles or dry spots. Float in the colors gently, the grey is made from a mix of the four colors. This layer has low values, the lowest being the area at the top left.

first layer

                   Let the first layer dry thoroughly, if you´re using a hair dryer, use it from a distance since its difficult to remove the masking if it gets heated. Wet the area again, this time with a spray bottle which has a gentle spray (a washed glass-reiniger/cleaner bottle works well for this) since a brush can disturb the first layer. Gently smooth out the spray with a brush if necessary. Lay in darker values using quick and confident strokes without going back and forth in the same area. Rock the paper to and fro to mix and blend the colors. Let dry thoroughly.

second layer

                  Mix some chinese white with the above colors (to make pale tints) to paint some background flowers and leaves. What freedom to be able to paint with white! Don´t forget to take into consideration that opaque colors dry darker when dry, unlike watercolors  which dry lighter. I´ve left mine to finish after doing the main flowers, so it will be easier to see where to place them and how many.

third layer

                        Here´s my value sketch:

value sketch

Spring Song

Prairie Warbler

Apple blossoms

spring song

                  I shot the apple blossoms at my child´s kindergarten, (yup, they get to eat nice, sweet, tiny little apples), I added some buds to get some value contrast. The images of the warbler and its nest are public domain images from the FWS. I like warblers a lot, mainly because of their color, which is my favourite!  This painting is about the joy in life, which is always there, coursing behind everything; which we stumble upon when we live any experience fully.

Listen to Prairie Warbler song

New painting – Spring Song

spring song sketch

               I´ve just started on this, a rough sketch but I´m satisfied with it, except maybe lift the bird`s chest a bit like its in the middle of a full-throated song? Will post back..