Monthly Archives: October 2021

Seasonal Robins

Tis the season to be jolly!

A couple of years ago, while taking care of my mother after she had broken a couple of vertebrae (and who celebrated her 94th birthday a fe days ago), I prepared a sketch of a Robin as a Christmas card design using Procreate on my iPad.

The image above is one, in what is now a series, that I made a couple of days ago.

The first one was as follows:

I then did another last year:

These now seem to have become an annual project so I have diarised for this time next year!

The Christmas cards are available for sale (look for Zazzle discounts) via my Zazzle store.

Also recently painted, in watercolour, are a series of three Robin paintings based on photos I took in the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh a couple of years ago.

I shall prepare a summary of my October activities during this coming week, for posting on Friday.

Thanks for following.


September update

Pair of Plain-bellied Emeralds

Having lapsed from my regular weekly posts I thought it would be a good idea to do a catch-up on what I have been doing over the past month. This post, too, is a couple of days late!

I shall cover my plan to plan projects (referred to in my last post), bird paintings completed in watercolour, an acrylic landscape, and an experiment with large sheets of heavyweight paper.

Project planning

The idea was to give me a bit of direction and motivation to complete a number of paintings without the need to overcome the “what shall I paint” hurdle. My head is usually full of ideas to the extent that I don’t know where to start. I know, too, that I have to set time aside for admin and domestic tasks, many of which occur in the first week of each month, but on the 9th of September I managed to do eight watercolour bird paintings and a sumi-e style pen and ink bird. I did a few non-bird paintings on that weekend and began a large acrylic on canvas landscape on which I worked sporadically up to the month-end.

The 15th of September was another goodish day, with 6 watercolour paintings completed.

The next day I started a new project, that I shall describe later, on large heavyweight paper. It took a few days to complete.

The rest of the month was devoted to a large landscape canvas painting that, again, I shall describe below.

So, in conclusion, I find it is a useful exercise to plan projects and work my way through them without pausing to think “what’s next”. When I get a whole day to paint without disturbance I can chose subjects from my list based on my palette – knowing that I don’t have to create a new palette but simply to add to the existing one. On days broken by admin disturbances I can find a suitable subject from my list, having a reasonable idea of the complexity involved.

Laughing Dove, South Africa
Pied Avocet, Trapani, Sicily

Black-winged Stilt, Trapani, Sicily

Reed Warbler on bamboo, Sumi-e style, Chinese ink and brush on A3 watercolour paper

Heavyweight Paper

While in a local stationery store I came across some paper called Parana Paper, presumably thus named because it comes from a region (State) of that name in the south of brazil. The paper is 1125 gms/m2 with dimensions of 100cm x 80cm ie about 1 kg per sheet. I bought a pack of 5 sheets.

I decided to use the paper for acrylic painting since I am 100% certain the paper is unsized and not suitable for watercolour. Prior to painting I had to coat the surface with gesso, a practice I also employ on canvas prior to painting. It would be interesting to treat the paper with an appropriate size to enable me to paint watercolour, though I am pretty certain the gesso preparation will allow me to use watercolours too.

The subject I painted on the paper was a pair of Plain Bellied Emerald hummingbirds that I had photographed in my garden. I have a feeder that attracts hummingbirds but I also placed a wooden stick to allow the birds to perch between feeds. This enables me to set up my camera and get reasonable close-ups.

The remaining four sheets will be prepared with gesso this weekend as I have plans for painting a Trogon, a landscape, a floral subject and another bird (kingfisher or sunbird). One of these may be done in watercolour.

Plain-bellied Emeralds 100cm x 80 cm acrylic and watercolour on gessoed 1125gm/m2 paper

Landscape in acrylics

Having tried, and failed (owing to lack of subject simplification) to paint the landscape subject I felt obliged to give it a try. It was a significant learning exercise as in view of the canvas size as well as the subject matter but there is no progress without making a few errors, and errors can only be made by trying new techniques.

The subject is a piece of land in the Northeast of Brazil that belongs to my wife’s family. Her grandfather managed the farm successfully, producing cashews, coconut and cattle among other things. It is quite a large piece of land with its own source of water. After he passed away fifteen years or so ago the land was “managed” by one of my wife’s uncles. As he has no farming aptitude he sold off the livestock while the fruit trees and coconut palms are no longer productive (though local folk sneak onto the land and steal the fruit!).

While that is a bit saddening it is good news for wildlife. There are several species of birds and insects for anyone with an interest in such things to search out. I do whenever I visit. There are also wild fruits that I have photographed that few people know about. Modern times have dealt a blow to farming of low volume production. Cashews still have major interest both for the nuts (that have risen in cost ten-fold in the time I have been in the area) and juice from the cashew “apple”.

Details from the landscape

I wanted to include some basic elements in the landscape: fresh water streaming from the source, coconut palms, sand dunes and the animal life. For those with a keen eye there are two Kiskadees in the painting – one obvious and up-front, the second in the distance. There is also a dragonfly. I was thinking of including a common marmoset but am still thinking about it.

The painting, pretty well finished, will be set aside for a few days before I do the fine details. A fresh view in a week or more will allow me to be more objective.

Landscape – Northeast Brazil, featuring sand dunes, coconut palms and a variety of birds

That’s all for September. I hope to be a bit more productive in October. I need to finish the landscape, I have 4 sheets of the 1125 gm paper to work on, and I have plenty of A3 watercolour paper. I can’t promise to post weekly again but if I have a good week I shall try on Friday (8th).

Thanks for following. Feel free to comment or ask questions.