Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Photo of the Day and the Heron

Good morning! Last night I stayed up until 2:15 am so that I could download some system software updates. They are huge files and I would be "kicked off" for 24 hours if I tried to do so during the day.

Imagine my surprise when I received an email from Tim Clary after 11 pm to notify me that I was the winner of the a hand drawn bookmark (I chose the titmouse as the bird of choice). And at 2:05 I received an email from Karen Blados telling me that I won a 5 x 7 print of an orange maple leaf.

I gotta tell ya, I'm feeling lucky and I'll take pix of the booty when it arrives so you can see it in all its gorgeousness.

Meanwhile here is the photo of the day:

Did I tell you we didn't plant any sunflowers this year?

Yesterday after walking the treadmill for 1/2 hour, I got some fresh water, sprayed my watercolors in the palette and began to finish the heron painting.

While I don't think it is a masterpiece, from the distance you would usually stand to view a picture hanging on the wall, it looks pretty good (for a beginner).

I do think his lower beak is a bit too orangey, but may be able to quiet that down with a light gray glaze. I realize the bank behind him is a bit linear, but that is approximately what it looks like. I think maybe the artist in me is supposed to make changes to nature in this case, but I didn't think of that in time.

I realize I am stalling, so without further ado, here he is:

I would appreciate any comments/critique/suggestions for things I can still do to make this one better.

Thanks so much.



  1. I really like the heron. I wouldn't even gray-down the beak, but that may just be me liking orange too much *g*
    Since you asked for "criticism/suggestions": The only thing that comes to my mind is that it doesn't appear to include too many values. There's the very light areas (heron front and part of the water) and then there is the rest which looks more or less really similar in value (try to check by converting into "grayscale" with photoshop/gimp for example). So I would probably go for a little bit more variety in values (and maybe add a bit of contrast). But that's just personal preferences, I guess. :)
    It's a really great painting! (Oh, and I LOVE sunflowers! <3 )

  2. Maybe go a little darker on the underside of the beak? The shape of his head, though, is perfect.

  3. Your heron looks great! I really like the splashes of light hitting its neck and wing. The only suggestion I would make is to agree with E*phi about the values. If it were me I would make the background a little darker so that the contrast of sunlight and shadowed areas on his feathers stands out more. I also like the orange on his beak the way it is too :-)

  4. I have to agree with the others as to having all the same value in the painting. Contrast is always a good thing, playing lights against darks. Lay in some darks around the the birds head, which will make him "pop" and bring forward.

    You, the artist, are allowed "artistic license" when it comes to placement of the subject matter. You can change the background to suit your design, raise or lower the horizon, change the sky from cloudless to cloudy...whatever it takes to improve the composition or to make the statement you want convey.

    I think you've done very well for a virtual beginner in a very demanding medium...what is this, your second or third painting! Bravo!!

  5. I really like the heron how he is right now, the tone, the presentation and all. If I am going to do it, I'd probably add a lot more dark tone in parks I find suitable, but that's totally different style so it really depends on what you want. Like I said, I like it the way it is =)

  6. Hi Vickie, I like your photo and heron. You've done a great job with the drawing of the heron and that's not easy! You can tell when someone does not understand the body of a bird. They can extend and scrunch and do all sorts of funny things. So, well done!

    I agree with working the value contrast a little. It looks like the green is darker in value than the bird's head, which is great. But, the bird's body looks to be nearly the same value as the water. What I would do if I were in your shoes is do another one and make the contrast between the body and the water stronger. Darken the body or lighten the water. Then you have a nice alternation of value from dark to light along the bird's edge. Does this make sense?

  7. Hi Vickie, Your heron is beautiful! I like the beak the way it is because there seems to be reflected light from the water, or perhaps the sun is low in the sky. I see the feathers are lighter on the bottom too.

    I think the suggestions about values are valid. Perhaps add shadows to the grasses? Sometime I put tissue paper over my drawing to darken an area so I can get a preview of the effect. Or do another one as Peggy suggested.

  8. Gee, I learned a lot just from reading the comments. Thanks for sharing.
    You seem to really enjoy your part of the world. I enjoy the many pictures of your surroundings.

  9. You must be on a lucky streak!
    I like your heron, I wouldn't change the colour of his beak, the background would be better darker and I would blend the lines out in the background and have the different sections fading into each other so that the heron becomes the main point of interest. But I don't know if you can do that at this stage with the watercolour. (my coloured pencil is a bit easier to erase I think?)

  10. Wonderful, Vicki!! I love the heron just as he is; I think the problem with values can be solved entirely in the background. I would add some darker shadows around the head,as suggested, and possible add some darker shadows in the water so he is pops out more. Take this scan into photoshop and change it to black and white; then add shadows around the heron to get a visual of what it would do for the picture. Really, this is excellent though!