The three amigos

The three amigos

The three calves painting is now finished and I am fairly happy. I think the one thing I might change is to have made the whole thing somewhat larger. In hindsight, trying to cram all of these guys into a 6×7 frame made it more difficult than perhaps was necessary.  I had a harder time inking with the thicker nib pen and there wasn’t as much room to layer the defining colors.  Lesson learned. Give each animal room enough for its own space.

Three calf pencil up

Three calves

Last fall I started to pencil up this sketch of three calves that lived across our road.  They made a nice composition and fortunately are three different colors.

Holiday commissions and then a surprising six orders first of the year pushed this little drawing to the back of the line. Then I took a pen and ink break to do the fruit paintings because I needed to do something different for a bit.

Felix with preliminary watercolor

Felix with some watercolor

Felix with some watercolor

I decided to jump right in and start watercoloring Felix.  Sometimes it is just better to dive in, come what may.  If I think too much about what I want to do, I start to get overly cautious.  So far I like the black, but I think it needs to be darker in places.  It’s not quite clear that he is a black horse yet and I haven’t decided whether or not to add his “worried” eyebrow.  The trick, as always, is not to overdo it.

I will be taking a short break on Felix, which is probably not a bad thing.  I already see some parts to darken.  I got a house commission over the weekend and will have to devote the drawing table to getting it out.  It is on the small side, so it will be quick, but it has some very cute eave details.

Inked Felix

Felix

Felix

Here is the preliminary inking of Felix.  He is a black horse (my nemesis in pet portraits as black is so hard) so the interplay between the ink and the watercolors will be interesting.  I will have to be aware of the light reflections off of his coat so he doesn’t get overly dark.  I also don’t necessarily want the watercolors to overwhelm the inking, but it may turn out that the inking is more of a guideline for the coloring than an accent feature.

He often has a slightly worried look on his face, indicated by a slight upward pucker in his eyebrows and it is so characteristic of him that I think it has to be there at some level.  He really is a bit of a Nervous Nellie but a wonderful and kind horse to ride.  I feel so fortunate to know him.

I will start the watercolors but then go back to add some more ink where I need to afterwards.  This will definitely be a multi-session piece.

Calf character

Calf portrait

Calf portrait

It has been quite warm this week and I have started to work some outside.  The weeds seem to have started up more than my flowers and I am trying to get a head start, especially on the dandelions.  Show me your yellow flower, and you’re gone! They are easy to spot right now and with the rain we had last week, I can pull most weeds up with the help of my hand trowel.  I have already pulled 2 wheelbarrows full so I’m feeling pretty good about that.  Not too much too soon or my hands will let me know about it.

In the meantime, I have pretty well finished up the watercolor calf.  I’ve deepened his coloring and added more to the background.  Although this is the same calf I did the acrylic head shot of a while back, the tone is a little bit less personal, I think.  Farther away, he doesn’t look quite so curious – more like he is staring hard, deciding if he should stay or run.  I’ll probably list him in my etsy store this week.

How now brown cow

Brown watercolor calf

Brown watercolor calf

I am so ready for nice weather.  March was on the warm side, but April has been quite the roller coaster – pleasantly warm and then nights of mid 20’s with cold, windy days.  I hope this week is starting a consistent spring trend.  I always get worried if it gets too warm too early and the early emergers get burned by frost.

I finally set myself down at the drafting table and decided to go back to the watercolors for a bit.  I went through my cattle photos again and liked this one.  I think it is the same calf that I did the close-up head shot of with the acrylics.  He’s a photogenic kind of guy, isn’t he.  After I did the preliminary inking, I loosely applied the first layer of paint.  His coat color has bled into the background some, but I’m not concerned.  I’ll use it to add depth and just be a little more careful in the next phase.

I have made 4 sales in my etsy store so far this month, a record for me.  Spring is starting out with a bang.  I’ll have to get this guy listed as soon as I have finished.

Polar bear #2

Polar bear

Polar bear

Second effort on the polar bear.  I’m not totally happy with the shadow underneath, but it looks better in the real thing than in the photo.  I think it just needs to be softened a bit.  Sometimes the photos, while not totally accurate, give me hints on how to improve whatever I am working on.  I am sticking to an impressionistic style for the time being due to my inability to paint the detail work thus far.  I’m not unhappy with the way the animals are turning out, but I would like to be able to do more detail work.  I’ll probably paint one more time on this before I call it quits, mostly refining the darker, shaded areas.

The flowers have decided it must be spring, even if the calendar says not quite yet.  My daffodils on the hillside next to my garage parking area started to bloom over the weekend.  I hope the weather cools off at least slightly.  Daffodils prefer it to be cooler rather than warmer and the blooms last longer if it stays below 60.  70’s are too warm and the flowers will fade quickly.

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