Sunday, September 17, 2017

Capturing Children's Faces in Watercolor

Daniel and Rebecca - They are shown here with 12"x16" mats - watercolor - 2017 - Pat Dolan

Here are my representations of twin grandchildren of one of my dear friends. I've been watching them grow up via Facebook and when I saw the photos used for these portraits, I immediately saved the photos as future reference for these watercolor paintings. The photos are used with permission, of course, granted some time ago!

I forgot to take very many "in progress" photos of Daniel's portrait. Sorry about that!

Daniel - The completed watercolor - without the matting.

Here is the first photo of the "in progress" for Rebecca's portrait.

Stages 2 and 3 below:

And the completed portrait here, without a mat.
Rebecca - 2017 - watercolor - Pat Dolan

It was great fun playing to capture the expressions of these two little toddlers - both seemingly deep in thought. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did painting them!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Playing with Watercolors at Last!

"Three Friends" - 2017 Pat Dolan - watercolor- 12"x16" with mat

These three little girls are companion preschoolers with our great-granddaughters. Capturing their joyful expressions and delightful embrace was great fun - as well as a bit of a challenge. Painting blonde hair is a challenge in and of itself, to be sure. And with the sunshine brightly illuminating the hair of the two girls on the left - and with slightly different shades of blonde.... it was fun, of course, as well as a challenge!

Here's an earlier version - I wasn't happy with the facial shadows, to say the least. Here, I'm still working towards a better representation of these three little girls...

And finally, it helped to create more contrast in the clothing, with highlights reflecting on the girls' faces. Toning down the bluish shadows and heightening the rosy hues, I think the painting came together more successfully.

Oh, it's wonderful to be back playing with watercolors! I have nearly a dozen drawings on heavy-duty watercolor paper ready to go. Guess I'll be busy for a little while!!!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cleaning the Studio...Changing Directions...

A rare view of my studio - clean, tidy, with amazingly empty surfaces!

Above, my computer desk, printer, paper supply cabinet, tool drawers, etc.

Below, my drawing table in the rare state of emptiness. I have a piece of felt-backed table covering on it since it's bare wood with metal and plastic additions. I love my new lamp - it's far more secure than any I've had previously, can twist and turn different directions, and has one of those special "daylight" bulbs in it, making it easier to maintain the appropriate colors when working there. Color looks quite different in different lighting, of course. But I prefer daylight for my bird portraits and the majority of my other work, as well.

Below, a 28"w x 6' table that I use when I am painting with acrylics, or as a drying space for watercolors, since I generally work on 3 or more watercolor paintings at a time. Quite often, I need to allow certain areas of a watercolor painting to dry before I can proceed to the next step in the painting. Thus working on several paintings at once makes it easier for me to keep busy while something requires I stop working on it!

And finally, another view of my desk - you can see over my desk an opening to the front entryway. That opening allows for the sunshine from my studio to lighten up the entry - especially when the front door is closed in the winter season. During the remaining seasons, our front door is generally open to allow the light into the entryway and the dining room. I need lots of light - that's the major reason we chose this particular unit in our townhouse development. My studio is lit from the east and the south, as well as seasonally allowing the sunset from the southwest to illuminate the room. It is said that north light is the best lighting for artist's studios - and that may be true from the perspective on eliminating direct sunlight and shadow areas from one's workspace. I do have to dodge the intense sunlight occasionally, but in Central Pennsylvania, the cloud cover usually takes care of any "over-lighting" that might occur!

All this cleanliness is a result of my desire to switch mediums - from acryic painting to watercolor painting. It's amazing to me just how many supplies come with each medium! Acrylic painting requires tubes and tubes of paint, a pile of different kinds of brushes, various kinds of palettes - depending upon how long the paint can stay wet on a palette and be used multiple days (I like food storage containers the best - they are free and mostly air tight. But they do take up a lot of storage space when one is collecting them for future use.)

So now it's on to bringing out my watercolor paints, papers, brushes, sponges and more. I'm excited to consider just how I will approach watercolor painting after having ignored it for so many years. Yes, I've had occasional forays into wc painting, but never stayed with it long enough to develop a new style appropriate for this new time in my life.

We shall see what we shall see. I expect it will take some time to feel confident in using this medium - it is so completely different that painting in acrylics! In acrylic painting, one generally works from dark to light. In watercolors, one must preserve the whites of the paper. That can be accomplished with a product similar to rubber cement that can be easily removed once the painting is completed, leaving the white of the paper untouched by paint. Alternately, the "purists" prefer to work around the white areas, leaving them totally untouched by anything - are more rigorous process, to be sure.

Stay tuned to see what happens in the studio over the next few weeks. I suspect I am more anxious about this than any of you!

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Sharing Photos Taken in the Past Month of So...

While Penn State continues to pummel Pittsburgh, I'm painting in my sunny studio and looking at recent photos. Thought I'd share some of each, the paintings and the photos!


Last night's double rainbow shining over our townhouse - taken from the car as we left for the Art Alliance for the art show opening.

Above, one of the triplet cubs born to the roving mama bear that roams a 300 mile or so radius including our neighborhood. This photo was taken by one of my neighbors, but I thought I'd share it as it's emblematic of our "edge of town" location in central Pennsyvania.

The calico cat I began a few blogs ago - it's improving, but I'm still not happy with it. We'll see what happens in time!

This is the "Hungry Fledgling Bluebird" I completed awhile ago - but it didn't quite 'work' and I couldn't figure out why. Here's a photo of the older version so you can compare the two. The one below is missing some essential spots - my neighbor and I were in agreement on that, so today, I updated the fledgling and am 'fairly happy' with the results...

Back to central Pennsylvania! Below are two photos from our visit to the Great Blue Heron rookery just outside Fisherman's Paradise park. Spring Creek, a major trout fishing stream here, supplies the environment for a great deal of wildlife, apart from the trout adn the fishermen... The "sentry" heron below seems to be the first to arrive, and he/she stands up there on the top of the ridge until all the herons in the rookery have soared in and landed at their nesting sites. Be sure to click on the images to see them enlarged for better viewing!
Above, as dusk settles in, we can barely see the heron families gathered in their various nesting sights. We have watched them flying in from all directions and seen some of the flying antics these large, somewhat awkward, yet very agile birds can accomplish in the air. It's always thrilling to spend the hour before dark witnessing this spectacle.

And finally, a few farm photos. The first two are a farm located on business hwy 322/Atherton Street as one approaches State College from the east. I have photographed this farm for over a dozen years, first during our visits to our daughter and her husband, and then after moving here in 2008. It's one farm I want one day to paint - in watercolor, not in acrylics. But until I practice a lot more in watercolor, that farm will wait!
The farm above is one I can see in the distance from our kitchen window. On foggy mornings/evenings, it's especially entrancing, as it is in the sunset, etc., etc.

More another day!

Art Alliance Juried Show 2017

Above, my "Raven with Berry" and Sean Bodley's "Self Portrait."

"Flight" - butterflies with red circles by Dotty Ford on the left above

Friday, September 08, 2017

The Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania has it's annual Juried Show opening this evening in Lemont, PA. Over 40 local artists have had a piece selected by the juror, Kathleen Kase Burk. I am happy to say that I have a piece in this show - one of my favorites!
Raven with Berry - (c)2017 Pat Dolan - acylic - 24"wide by 12" high

We're on our way off to see the show. More later!

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Just Off the Easel

Hermit Thrush - 16"x20" - Acrylic - (c)Pat Dolan

The Hermit Thrush was first on the easel for the demonstration at Rhoneymead Arboretum several weeks ago. Here's how far the painting progressed that day:
Thankfully, it's come a long, LONG way since then!

Sometimes it takes just a few days to pull together a wonderful painting. Other times, it takes years to complete a piece that an artist has struggled with numerous times, then put away for another day. Fortunately for me, the Hermit Thrush was one of the easier paintings, although I did struggle with the coloring of both the back feathers and the underside feathers of this lovely bird.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Fledgling Raven and Sparrow Just Off the Easel

"Fledgling Raven" 2017 acrylic (c)Pat Dolan - just back from the framer 9"x11" with frame
This painting was inspired by a beautiful photograph shared by Wendy Davis of British Columbia, an amazing photographer of birds and wildlife, who has graciously granted me permission to use her photos as my subject matter.

Below are photos of a painting that is completed (or maybe not quite finished???) with the various stages from start to finish. Here is "Fledgling Sparrow" in acrylic on a 12" square canvas.

"Fledgling Sparrow" acrylic 12'x12" (c)Pat Dolan

I'm thinking I need to do a bit more work around the beak and eye, but it's nearly done....I hope!

The photo for this little sparrow is used by permission from the Paint My Photo site, by member ASCHI from Switzerland, a marvelous bird photographer. Here is the photo I worked from in painting this little sparrow.
If anyone is needing reference material that is copyright free, this site is a wonderful resource!