This painting of crows was done maybe eight years ago and was in the very first post last October of this blog. Compared to the pigeons in my most recent post, this painting has much more energy and unpredictabilty in it, and I like it much better.

That pigeon painting was nearing completion when frustration took up residence. I realized that I'd settled for doing what I know how to do instead of braving the challenge of painting those pigeons with daring. I'd 'chickened' out and made them realistic to avoid failure - and now they are fairly boring. I do like the leaves, though.

It's easier to do what we already can do well than to step out and try new ways of creating. It's certainly much more comfortable to paint like I know I can, but the results are almost always less than exciting.

I'd originally painted these crows in a similar, predictable manner, with some pathetic looking cornstalks in rows behind them. I'd gone to the sink to spray all the paint off of the YUPO, and when I began spraying off the cornstalks, the paint on the crows started to wash off in a very cool way. Even as I let the water run off the YUPO paper, I realized that this could be a good thing. A mistake would become an asset.

But when doing the pigeon painting this past week, I was overly cautious, fearing failure, trying to be in total control, thinking about what all I could do with the finished painting - all things that spell disaster for a creative experience for me.

It's time to start a new painting. I still wonder if there's any hope for the pigeons the way they are? Can I make it playful? What could I do to create a better picture? Pour some fluid acrylics over the whole painting and ??? Use them in a collage? Make a mosiac? We'll see.

The lesson learned is that we all must continually push forward into unknown territory to find new ways of hopefully making some good art. We can't rest on our laurels, at least not for long.

"CAWS FOR ALARM" Transparent Watercolor on YUPO 40 x 26" COLLECTED



For some reason, I thought painting a big picture of pigeons would be fun to do. Here's what happened, in progression. Let me know what you think...... a super dumb idea or ???

Here are the background steps, shown above, but the miskit's been removed from the leaves. The leaves as well as the giant pigeons were miskited so I could wet the entire paper and let the paint flow without it getting on the pigeons or leaves. I worked the foreground in two pourings, covering most of it the second time with Phthalo Blue.
The upper portion of the painting was poured with a shadow-like edge created on the bottom of the horizontal shape. I added excess water to create blossoms in various areas, then as soon as it was almost dry, washed off the loose paint. Since the painting's 42 x 27," it was easiest to work on sections.
The post above shows the next step. On wet paper, I added more color to the leaf areas, made more blossoms and back runs, then after letting it dry a bit, blasted off whatever paint hadn't set up yet, creating the textures seen below. Check out Nick Simmons' blog - see side bar - to see more of his watercolor batik effect on his blog and web site.
The leaves shown above are just a close up of the leaves after layering of paint twice and spraying off twice to create the batik look. Initially, the background behind them was also treated with the same process.Above, the miskit is off the pigeons but new areas on their backs have been miskited that will remain white. Time to paint those pigeons.
Paint was added to both pigeons, but only the one on the left had back runs created and paint washed off of it. Click on the image to see the difference in textures of the two birds. The miskit's been removed from both birds.
At this point in the painting, I really began to question what in the world I was thinking --- painting PIGEONS??? Giant pigeons? These two birds each measure about 18 inches long.

Then I remembered. The very first memory I have of ever being afraid was when I was maybe three years old and playing in our backyard. Suddenly these HUGE birds landed near me. They had shiny, iridescent feathers and bobbed their heads in a goofy way. I flew up the back porch steps to the safety of my mom's arms. I do think those particular pigeons WERE at least 18 inches long, maybe even longer. I can certainly remember being very terrified.
Above is the nearly finished piece. Although I'd used some warm colors near the birds, the painting had no contrast of temperature other than the red orange eyeball of the 'lady' pigeon. Contrast can usually add some interest, and since this painting needed more pizazz, I popped some orange in the feathers. See below.

I'd guess I've faced my fears of those pigeons, just in time to visit St. Mark's square in a couple of weeks. Can't wait. Bring on those pigeons!
"PIGEON TOED?" Fluid Acrylics on 140#HP Arches 42 x 27"



The painting in my studio of giant pigeons is almost finished. Since it's not quite completed, here's a very old painting done over ten years ago of some gawking Indiana chickens.

I'll be posting some other ancient paintings in the next few weeks. One of my main goals when I started this blog almost a year ago was to create a record of my love for painting for our sons and grandchildren to have someday.
In the last twenty years, there have been a lot of paintings that I never took a photo of before they left home, but those that were previously recorded will eventually get posted here. (Record keeping is near the bottom of my list of things to do, right after laundry and before ironing.)
Some of the older paintings are certainly better than others. Some are embarrassingly bad. I'll post those, too, and this painting of chickens is one of the better bad ones. I liked the shadows, though.
Watch for the pigeons. One of them seems to have landed, and the other's not far behind.
"HEN HOUSE" Transparent Watercolor on 140#CP Arches 17 x 11" COLLECTED