The title is misleading b/c this painting wasn't primarily to paint a duck, but to conquer WATER....the great challenge for all artists, but especially watercolor artists! I've struggled with water for a while...BUT recently, I decided to just dive right into something REALLY hard and see what emerged. Sometimes that's the only way to learn a difficult subject...
Many people, myself included, hesitate to charge into a difficult subject, b/c what if they *gasp* ruin the painting and fail...but, as I remind myself constantly, it's only a piece of paper, right? A whole piece of paper costs me about $6 and I can get about 4-5 paintings from a 22 x 30, so I've really only lost a couple bucks if I ruin something (plus time and frustration) (which is technically priceless, but I digress...)
So, dive into something hard and challenge yourself! You'll be so glad you did!
I was working from a photo of a duck that landed in a fountain while we were visiting Washington DC recently. The sketching was rather tedious, but I wanted to give myself lots of information to work with, so I sketched every line and reflection.
This was obviously a political duck b/c he acted very self-important and begged for more resources. The Washington DC squirrels are the same way.....
I kept track of the reflections by adding the blue first to the largest areas so I wouldn't get lost in the shapes. That's always a good first step when you're painting complicated shapes. Choose one color and paint every shape that color and it keeps you on track. Then, I started adding the greens and darker colors.
I wet the whole area of the each shape and put color on. I used a small, round #4 brush for this whole process. Anytime I painted green into an area, I usually charged in Burnt Sienna while it was still wet, just to make it more visually interesting.
Colors are Cerulean Blue, Payne's Gray, Hooker's Green, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber
Now for the duck....I wet the whole head and laid on my first wash with Payne's Grey, Viridian Green and Purple. I did the same with the breast of the duck. The marks around the neck are masked. With a #3 round, I started patiently adding the feather details. A lot of the time, I mixed Burnt Umber in with the purple to get a nice warm color for some of the feathers.
I'm just gradually working by sections here on the back of the duck.
I decided to finish up the duck so that I could really concentrate on the water areas, so I've added about 2 - 3 washes to deepen his head and breast...finished up the feathers....and I'm happy with him.
You'll notice that the white of his feathers is just the white of the paper. There's a LOT of negative space going on there. I'm just painting around different shapes very carefully. At the end, I'll go back through with clean water and a brush and soften the edges of the negative shapes to kind of give them feathery glow.
I'm still working upwards with the reflections here. You can see, too, that I'm starting to layer a really dark wash of Hooker's Green and Burnt Umber (mixed) on TOP of the water that I've already painted...in interesting shapes and such. It really give the water that layered look.
Now, I know what you're thinking....you're thinking "Nooooo, it's too complicated! I can't do that!!! Noooo, don't make me!!!" To which I say, "quit your whining, please and get started....there are harder things in life and this isn't one of them"...in my mother's tone of voice.
Ha... YOU can totally do this! You'll surprise yourself!
I'm coming around the bottom here....and it was at this point that I was a bit stumped as to how to finish...I didn't want to paint ALL of the reflections b/c I felt like it would be too busy on the eye...there wouldn't be any place of rest in the painting. So, after consulting all of my amazing facebook friend artists, we all agreed to leave a large portion of the painting blank with just a tiny bit of detail in it.
Good advice! Thank you!
I'm getting towards the end here. I've really examined my photo and then added any touches that I feel are necessary for the painting to be balanced with lights and darks, soft and hard edges. I've softened up the edges of the duck and softened some spots on his cheek....He's a cutie bug.
Smiling away, I hope that he finds someone's wall sometime soon! I know he will make a lovely addition to any home. He's only $350.00! A steal for the amount of time it took to paint him.
He's 11 x 14 in size and can be mailed.
Happy Painting, everyone!
I recently read an article that was gently criticizing our country's fascination with stardom and radicalism....and how that fascination has subtly infiltrated even the Christian world....("even"...that's funny, b/c basically everything invades the church sooner or later).
The writer brought up an excellent point. Why, if we as believers are not supposed to "let our right hand know what our left hand is doing" or vice versa, why are we so enthralled with writing, blogging, speaking, lifting ourselves up about the things we are doing for Christ...why do we spend so much time and energy trying to radically change the world through huge events, big deeds, dramatic foreign trips....?
In his post, “The New Legalism: Missional, Radical, Narcissistic, and Shamed,” Bradley writes,
“I continue to be amazed by the number of youth and young adults who are stressed and burnt out from the regular shaming and feelings of inadequacy if they happen to not be doing something unique and special. Today’s Millennial generation is being fed the message that if they don’t do something extraordinary in this life they are wasting their gifts and potential. The sad result is that many young adults feel ashamed if they “settle” into ordinary jobs, get married early and start families, live in small towns, or as 1 Thess 4:11 says, “aspire to live quietly, and to mind [their] affairs, and to work with [their] hands.” For too many Millennials their greatest fear in this life is being an ordinary person with a non-glamorous job, living in the suburbs, and having nothing spectacular to boast about.”
The ESV version says, "..But we urge you brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need." I Thess 4:10b - 12
Wow...to live quietly, working with our own hands...what a concept in today's culture! Now, I'm all for people traveling, missions, great things happening with the gospel...totally! But a little part of me wonders if our focus has gotten derailed and in the glorious train wreck that has ensued, the specter of Christian "self" has arisen. There just seems to be a lot of self-promotion, self-adulation..self self self...going on in the believing community and I'm speaking to myself here as well! Trust me!
There are times in my life when I look at my ordinary day of laundry, breaking up squabbles, cleaning up cat barf (just this morning...before my cup of coffee, even), stretching the food budget (btw, has anyone noticed that LAST summer, steak was $5.99 a lb and THIS summer, it's $14.99 a lb?) and I think, "God, am I doing enough? Am I advancing your kingdom? B/c I'm pretty sure that Lord of the Rings marathon isn't improving my spiritual life here....that's definitely going in the wood, hay and stubble pile.
But really, what is enough? Do I have to pack my kids up and move to a foreign country to be seen as spiritual enough? (notice how I said, "TO BE SEEN") (aka "to be seen by people") Or is it that God sees the ordinary things...the unseen things....the moment of forgiveness that happens after a disagreement with a spouse....the shoulder you offer to your friend for her to cry on....the time that you listen...REALLY listen to a story your son tells you...Isn't God there, too? Isn't that radical?
Matthew 6: 1 - 4 sums up these thoughts beautifully...poetically....it cuts through the clutter, really:
"Beware of practicing your righteousness before men, to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
But when you give, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing...(pretty un-radical, eh?) so that your giving will be done in secret ; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
I guess I'm writing this whole article to myself, really. So much of my life revolves around ME...what I want, what I feel, what I'M in the mood for....and I think that maybe God is gently stretching me to set myself aside and here I am writing about myself, but not to lift myself up, but to let you know my struggle against that sin nature that rears it's ugly head within me, whispering that my world should reflect me, my talents, what I've accomplished...but no.....there is One who is so much infinitely greater than me. One whose life my life should be constantly pointing towards. It is GOD who gets the glory...it is Christ who should be magnified. I decrease so that He can increase in my life.
John Piper writes: "Christ does NOT exist in order to make much of us. We exist in order to enjoy making much of Him. Christ is not glorious so that we get wealthy or healthy. Christ is glorious so that rich or poor, sick or sound, we might be satisfied in Him."
Doesn't that just thrill you to the tips of your toes? To be so satisfied with who we are in Christ, with Him, to be so sure of His sovereignty and magnificent orchestration of this world..... that it doesn't matter what happens around me, I am at rest in Him...Oh, to be at that place! I'm not there, but I want to be, so desperately!
God is in the ordinary things of your life, my friend. Enjoy Him and know that He commands us to just live for him. Shut out the cacophony of all of the talking heads and opinions and ads and movies and music...every one giving you their opinion on what you SHOULD be doing and how you are supposed to be living....in the quiet of your heart, you know that God's Word is true...and what He says is right and good.
"...do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing...."
"...done in secret...."
"...lead a quiet life..."
"...attend to your own business..."
"...work with your hands..."
"...love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength...love your neighbor as yourself."
If you allow the Holy Spirit to help you to do these things, you, and I have accomplished something un-blogworthy, something not worth mentioning..something not worth mentioning on the news or in a magazine or in Reader's Digest....certainly not book worthy!.....but.....
It just might be something radical in God's eyes.
P.S....topic coming soon....why do we have to repeat ourselves so much duri
I'm a wife and mother of four kids. I homeschool, paint, run, and garden! I am always interested in digging truths out of Scripture. Here, you'll find my thoughts on art, adoption, gardening, mothering, homeschooling, books and whatever else is on my mind. Enjoy!
Creativity doesn't exist in a vacuum - like skepticism, it's a means, not an end. It cries out for a theme. To treat creativity as an end in itself is to assume godlike character for humans as though they could create ex nihilo. -J. Cheane