Saturday, 30 August 2014

Kookaburra in Watercolour

 Subject: Kookaburra
Technique: Working from a Starting Point

When I paint there is often a magical moment when the subject I am working on begins to come to life. At first it is just me and a blank white piece of paper.  I know in my head what I want to happen on the paper but often my brushstrokes seem to create a magic that completely takes over.  This is when I observe and listen to what I am being told by. Colour placement seems to work so well at times that the following flow of pigment is in charge of what is happening , rather than me. That sounds odd I know. 

I am looking forward to my trip to Australia later this year. My mind is already thinking of the gorgeous wildlife I will see there. Especially the amazing birds. I fell in love with a kookaburra on my last visit which also seemed to appear in real life by magic. I was telling Karen, an artist who had attended my workshop that my dream would be to see a Kookaburra. No sooner had I spoken the words than Karen told me to look up and there on a branch nearby was a fabulous, fluffy youngster. Looking at us and posing. 
If you are reading this Karen, I can't wait to see you again.

But for now, back to  my piece of white paper. I started painting using my starting point technique. I chose to start with  a simple eye. On this small section I really took my time to get it just right. I wanted an almost cheeky expression of a bird that didn't mind having its photograph taken. From the painted eye I worked  next on the colouring around it, towards the back of the head.

Next I thought of Australian skies and whilst a beautiful golden hue might have looked pretty I opted for a turquoise. I aimed to give my Kookaburra a fluffy  hair style on top!  By the way, a great tip  for anyone not used to working without a preliminary sketch, you can use water to find out if your next painting area will work or not. You can see how I have  placed water where I will paint the wing in the image below.

 Adding the background at the top of the head by working negatively away from my subject.
Next the wing is to be added.

The beak of the Kookaburra seems huge! So different from the many birds I usually paint in UK. So I have spent a lot of time measuring to make sure I have got this part of my Kookaburra acccurate. Then I completed my study of a beautiful Australian bird.

"Laugh Kookaburra, Laugh Kookaburra
Gay your life must be"

Isn't it funny how painting something can bring back unexpected memories? I was in the Girl Guides as a youngster and we often sang a song that meant little to me at the time. I knew a kookaburra was a bird but had no idea what it looked like. But from the song I knew it sat in an " old gum tree". Little did I know I would be visiting Australia to see the real thing or enjoy painting it as an adult.

And now I have that  song on the brain so I had best paint something else quickly to remove it!


Artist Tip: Always  take your time when working from a starting point  if you are using  my technique to paint. If this section isn't right the rest of the painting might not work so you may be unhappy with the finished result. Take your time and don't race to complete a painting!



RH Carpenter said...

Beautiful how you start with no drawing but draw with your brush. I just purchased your book and just from viewing it, I know I'll buy the new one out soon. This is how I want to paint but have struggled and gone back to my old ways - drawing, filling in lines, etc. Your work truly shows the beauty of watercolor - if you let it do its thing (and know where you want to go). Thanks for sharing on your blog and in your books.

Adrienne ODonnell said...

I am booked in to your australian workshop, or one of them I guess. This was a lovely surprise and I am looking forward to it even more now. Who knew people overseas grew up with that song!