Monday, August 22, 2011

Swamp Milkweed Nectarbird - Work in Progress

Back in 2007 I painted a bird with daffodils for plumage, as part of a personal project to create a bird for each month, mirroring the month's birthflower and birthstone. These birds, which I called "Birdflowers," later morphed into "Nectarbirds." Nectarbirds were birds with the plumage of the flowers on which they fed. Whenever I go exploring and find interesting-looking flowers, I try to get good photographs and create a Nectarbird from that, which usually involves me doing some research to try to figure out exactly what flower I've found!

For DragonCon, I try to paint new Nectarbirds each year. Last year was the exception, but this year I will have two new Nectarbirds. One based on the Hedge Bindweed, and one (currently in progress), based on the Swamp Milkweed. For the Hedge Bindweed Nectarbird, I tried a technique of using acrylic on cold-press watercolor paper in a very watered-down way, more like watercolor. I can't say I really enjoyed this technique, and decided for my next Nectarbird, to try a more traditional approach with acrylic. More specifically, a medium tinted canvas, and then introducing darks and lights.

I learned a bit about the grisaille technique at SCAD, where a grayish painting is overlaid by layers of colored glazes. The technique, traditionally used with oils, works exceptionally well with acrylic also. I try to put a bit of color in my gray, but the foreground elements ended up being pure gray in the end. I am excited about adding the glazes, which to me is the most fun part of this technique.

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