Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Four Little Birds- A Commissioned Project

Near the end of last year I painted four little winter bird watercolor paintings that were each 8 x 10 inches. I made giclée reproductions of my little bird paintings and began offering them in a few different sizes.
In the smallest sized giclee, which is 3 ½ x 5 inches, I started framing and selling the four little birds together as a vertical set. The four birds look really nice in the small size, and all grouped together.
watercolor bird paintings
Clockwise from top left they are a Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse, and Northern Cardinal.
  Then, at an art show last April, I had a customer come in to my booth who wanted the original bird paintings, but he wanted them in the small size and he wanted them framed together like the set of giclées. So he commissioned me to paint four original watercolors, based on my own 8x10-inch paintings, but only 3½ x 5 inches each. Of course, I agreed! And I took photos of the process and will now share them with you..

watercolor bird paintings
First I trimmed my watercolor paper to the correct sizes, and then taped them all to my gatorboard. I penciled in the bird shapes and the main branches, then started with loose washes of transparent oxide red (Daniel Smith) and cobalt blue (American Journey) to create the soft background.

watercolor bird paintings
 I continued laying in washes of the same colors in the background, and sprinkled some salt into the wet paint here and there to create texture and the appearance of background snowflakes. I chose to do the background in multiple layers to create depth with the overlapping shades. Once I was satisfied with the background washes, I used a fritch scrubber brush to lift out the shapes of the lighter background branches and  foreground snowflakes. I also laid in the first appearance of color on the bodies of the birds and foreground branches.

watercolor bird paintings
I continued painting the colors of the birds and foreground branches, using the same technique of layering washes, letting each wash dry in between. (A hairdryer helps to speed this along.)And here you can see the four watercolor paintings completed and signed, but still taped to the gatorboard. Note-at the end I used a white gel pen to add some of the white detail on the cardinal's wing.

Framed and ready to go!

 My husband, John made a lovely frame for the little birds, and double matted them with a black inner mat and a speckled off-white outer mat.
And now these little guys are being shipped to their new home in the state of Maine!

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