Thursday, 5 July 2012


I am  intrigued by the owl paintings of Jean Haines and have done several studies trying to utilize some of her tecniques. Unfortunately they haven't worked that well so I reverted to a rather more othodox method, although keeping her approach in mind. I'm not satisfied with the result and am still mulling over how to handle such a subject. There are several artists whose approach to birds and animals I like - Gerard Hendriks, Bev Jozwiak and Liam Quan Zhen for example and there are others....!

What a Quartet!

 16" x 12" Fabriano Artistico Extra White 140lb Not.

I don't put this forward as a good painting just the latest - could be the fifth - attempt at making something of this difficult (to me) subject. In the painting I've deliberately toned down the three  owls  at the rear and made the slightly larger one at the front prominent using colour to do so. First I made a not too detailed drawing using a mechanical pencil with an 07 2B lead. I like the Pentel 205 series. Colours were Cerulean, Raw Umber, Quinacridone Gold (DS PO49), Quinacridone Rust (Graham PO48), Indigo (DSPB60/PBk11) (mainly for the eyes), some Cyan Blue (Maimeri PB15:3), Cobalt Teal Blue (Graham PG50), and Quinacridone Rose (Graham PV19). I think that's it.

 Brushes used were the Rosemary Series 33 Size 12 plus a smaller size 6. Following this I tried another.

16" x 12" Centenaire 300gm (140lb) not.

Actually, although I don't consider this anything special, it is in fact an example of a failed painting at least partially recovered. I was about to tear up the first one in a fit of pique when I had the thought  what if I washed most of the colour off, because there was nothing wrong with the  underlying drawing. I duly did this with plenty of water using a sponge and then let it dry. What remained was a faint impression of the original with the colours in very pale tints.

Next day I had another try and this is the result. The other thing is that the paper used was the reverse side as the front or `good' side already had a (discarded) painting. For those still reading colours used were mainly yellow/browns and blues, Quinacridone Gold (DS PO49), Quinacridone Rust (Graham PO48), Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber with some Hansa Yellow Medium (DS PY97) and Indian Yellow (Rowney PY53) for the eyes. Blues were Indigo (Daniel Smith PB60/PBk11), Cerulean and Cyan Blue (Maimeri PB15:3). When all was dry I dry brushed some white gouache on to various places. I  think that's it. I only used one brush the Isabey Series 5228 Size 8 Kolinsky, except for the gouache, a small bristle brush.

The lesson from this if there is one is that watercolours can be corrected and, to some extent rescued. It isn't ideal and some will say just junk the failures. Still good paper is very expensive so why not try.


Sharon Whitley said...

I also love Jean Haines owl paintings and many others that I've seen and intend having a go myself at some point. You've done a great job and thank you for adding the colours you've used - I always find that useful to know, have a great day x

Carmen said...

My other half keeps on at me to do him some birdy paintings - he wants smaller birds like finches and budgies though (he's a breeder) I too struggle with them though so am interested reading this.

I think your owls are gorgeous personally and can only dream of getting to your level.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for commenting Sharon. They are fascinating but difficult. I've just added you to `Figurative Watercolours' by the way.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for commenting Carmen. I hope to do better in the future as I'm only half satisfied with these.

Anns Art said...

I like some of Jean Haines' paintings, but have to say they don't all work for me (especially the ones where I can't make out what it is meant to be!)...still, that's art isn't it, personal likes etc. Nice to see you have rescued your painting, if I get one I'm not happy with I either tear it up in frustration or leave it for ages - go back to it and somehow straight away see what I need to do to it....then I remember the ones I have torn up! oh well.

ps: I was lucky to get to the SAA show in Bristol after all, yay.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for commenting Ann. I am about to post a review of Jean Haines new book. I agree with your remarks. Unfortunately due to family commitments I wasn't able to make the SAA show.

Ray Maclachlan said...

Interesting subject Peter, keep at it. In the photo it is the eyes that strike you first. Maybe a little more definition there would help the first painting. The second painting has the eyes that make an owl and the colours are a riot. Nicely done.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks Ray. I still have a way to go with these subjects I realise that.