Another in my Birds & Teacups Series, Violet Tea I is still very much a work in progress…
Quick oil sketch…
Some lovely loose brush strokes suggesting violets…
Sketching in the background…
Filling in here and there…
Wiping off the gestural background that I was afraid was building up too much…
Blocking in some shadows and loosing my loose violets in a pursuit of realism…
Sharpening up details, but there’s such a long way to go in terms of drama (which will come from the lighting) in this piece…..I’ll post more when there’s more to see.
Here is the finished painting, which is now on exhibit at the Los Gatos Museum Gallery.
A new Bird & Teacup on the easel today! This time it’s one of the little Dark-eyed Junkos that are always underfoot. This one is nestled into some branches of Star Magnolia that my friend painter Isaias Sandoval had cut for me from his tree. I love the way it’s coming together!
I sketched out the image in magenta oil…
Blocked in the darks and mid tones of the background loosely…
Worked in the branches…
Paid some attention to my bird…
Laying in the shadows in the petals and cup, they may look like white flowers but they have a huge range of warm and cool colors (pinks. yellows, greens, treys, lavenders and blues) in both the shadows…
And the highlights…
I love to start a new painting with the new week – fresh start, fresh paint and all the those days stretching out before me like an empty road. I was able to race ahead with an image I’d already worked out…a cute, vintage Japanese bamboo demitasse filled with lucky bamboo against the lush pattern of a period cheongsam (that used to fit me). I loved this combination but wasn’t sure what bird to pair it with until I saw these Japanese White Eyes in Kawaii last winter (yes it takes me a while to get to all the ideas I have filled away). I love how their chartreuse feathers and little white eye rings act as a perfect compliment to the vignette.
As usual, I keep the initial oil sketch very loose, making sure only that the teacup is centered.
Next I loosely blocked in the background – there’s not much detail in the fabric anyway being some kind of watercolor looking satin and velvet burn out affair (I wish it sill fit me!).
The teacup came next.
Then the bamboo.
Then the birds were roughed in, all I could manage for the day.
Today, with the paint a bit set, I was able to come back in and start working on the details. At this point the birds are starting to develop personalities and the teacup is taking on it’s character. I’ll bring fresh eyes to it tomorrow, but it’s well on it way to being complete!
This week before Halloween seems a good a time as any to begin work on my barn owl. This bird, who goes by the name of Owlivia at the local Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center, is paired with an Aynsley teacup (circa 1939) filled with trumpet mushrooms. I love the woodland magic of this combination – now to try and do it some justice with paint!
Loose sketch in oil.
Loose dark background.
Blocking in the owl.
Blocking in the table, feet and mushroom perch.
more tomorrow ( I hope) … the chainsaws are coming….
The chainsaws were only intermittent today and I was able to really start laying in some details in my owl and work on the appropriate background contrast to really make her glow. In the white of her face there are lots of other hues – lavenders, blues, greens, ochers and rusts. It’s these subtle variations on white that create depth and volume and vitality.
Chainsaws came back for a few days to finish off the oak so I wasn’t able to complete the painting but at least I have the owl standing on a mushroom now instead of a pair of oversized gulab jamuns!
I’ve begun a new bird & teacup piece. This time a Purple Finch (the only red bird I’ve shot) with a Coalport teacup paired with some vintage redwork embroidery, calico and red and white striped tulips. I start, as always with a loose, painting directly on the prepared board.
I really should have worked the background first but I decided to block in my reds instead.
Eager to see some tulip action I painted these in loosely as well, letting the pigment pull through the brush strokes.
I was eager to see the finch too .
I worked on the teacup next, as it supports both the flowers and bird, I wanted to make sure they felt well integrated.
Dobbing in the foreground to feel where the shadows would fall.
Filling in the vintage linen embroidery backdrop I experimented with a crosshatched look.
Dropping the crosshatching, I tried more definition and a brighter backdrop.
Wanting a deeper shadow I try blocking in dome darks but the grays are all still too wet.
I end up wiping it off down to the initial sketch with a rag dampened with mineral spirits.
I begin to apply the darks in a more controlled way – a muddy mess is a nightmare!
More to come….
Finished! I’ve messed around with little details until the painting told me I was done.
It started with that gorgeous barn owl, “Owlivia” from the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center. I knew I wanted to include her in my birds & teacups series so I took lots of pictures when I had the chance. Then I had to scout out a perfect teacup. I thought should be a in a woodland theme, maybe ferns or branches but when I saw the mushroom teacup by Aynsley of England (circa 1939 -) I knew I had found the perfect whimsical compliment to the owl. At first I arranged pink oyster mushrooms in the cup and while I love the color, I wanted to see what a stronger form would look like. In the end, I prefer the king oyster mushrooms which will help to make a more interesting composition.
Mushrooms turn out to be pretty fragile to work with ….I ‘d better eat them up quickly!
Each week that passes brings on a glorious new wave of blooms – this week it’s the dogwood that’s caught my eye. I’m amazed by the variety in my very own neighborhood (sadly the white one I planted next to my studio isn’t blooming this year as it’s still struggling to get enough sun).
Of course I do have a vintage teacup that had been begging for little dogwood bouquet, it’s tri-footed base is too wonky for tea anyway!
“Am I indifferent to thee?”, the dogwood symbolizes durability and endurance in the Victorian lexicon of flowers, because of it’s strong wood, said in Christian lore to be the wood used in the crucifixion with it’s bracts showing the nail holes at their tips and the crown of thorns at their center. How did it get that name? Some say it was because it’s bark was used to rid dogs of the mange. Others say it evolved from “dagwood” as daggers were made from this strong material. A lot of heavy symbolism to contrast against this delicate cup and bloom – I wonder which bird seems suitable to add to the mix?
I can’t decide whether the stylized flower on this English Deco teacup by Royal Grafton is meant to be a narcissus or a daffodil but I think there is some wiggle room. I will shoot it both ways. My favorite flower shop, Bunches, had nosegays of narcissus on two for one so that was the perfect place to start. Even as I write this post I am surrounded by the heady scent of spring!
Narcissus sends the Victorian message of formality, or “Stay as sweet as you are” conflicting concepts I think! Let me know what you think – do you prefer the drama of the black background or the quaintness of the quilt?
I think I’ll pair up this teacup with this sweet White Crowned Sparrow. I have lots of photos of this little guy and his flock mates from the grounds of a local church and his markings seem to match perfectly! The bird says sweet, definitely not formal.
A little birdie told me that Rose Tea I was purchased at the gallery today! Good thing I went in yesterday to take a peek at the new hanging or they’d just be a picture of a nail and a red dot!