Sunday, June 5, 2011

flamingo road

As an artist, sometimes the best ideas come when you least expect them...and for me ideas often happen when I am poking around on the internet.

That's right.  I get ideas by looking at and reading the ideas of others. When I paint, I often paint from a photo.  I am not a "plein air" sort of painter...I have to have time to think about what I am painting, how I want to change and adapt it to my style.  Everyone has a style.  I used to think that my style was having no style, but I realize now, after years of painting, that what we see with our eyes comes through our fingertips to the media we are using, via our brain, and we all have unique one-of-a-kindness when it comes to the old noggin.

A week or so ago I was reading blogs.  I follow many really good blogs, and many of those are photographers and artists (where to better get inspiration than from other artists?).  So as I am reading one blog and scrolling through some gorgeous photos, BAM! I see it...a photo of a flamingo that is so bright and perfect it jumps right off the monitor and zaps me between the eyes.  This particular flamingo belongs to Jim Brandano.  His blog is JP Brandano: Florida's Photographers and you can see the flamingo that set my creative fires alight by clicking here.

I messaged Jim on Facebook to ask him if it would be ok to use a photo of the flamingo to paint as a sample for the studio's classes next month, and he very kindly agreed.

I started with a watercolor sketch of the flamingo.  I do a lot of paintings in watercolor first, to get the feel of the subject, and to see how long it will take to paint.  Because our classes are 3 hours long, it has to be simple in subject, and easy enough that anyone can paint.  I sketch in the main parts with a pencil (that isn't cheating, it's called blocking in).

With most paintings, we tell the class to start with the background first.  With watercolor, I did just the opposite.  I filled in the foreground first and then added the background.  I used a dry brush technique (this means the paper is dry) because I didn't want bleeding to occur with the paint.  (If I wanted to  blend an area, I dampen that area.)  I worked it up in shades, adding color and blending, then working on the background.

 After I was happy with the way it looked, I decided it needed outlining in black for detail.  I used my Pitt Pens for that.  

I thought I was finished with the watercolor at this point, but I looked at it a couple days then decided to get some acrylic paint and goober it up a little more.  (That's a real artsy fartsy term, but that was what I was afraid I would end up doing...but since I wasn't satisfied with it, there was no way to go but forward...GUNG HO!)

Here I go with the white acrylic paint...just jumpin' in with both feet.  (That's my worktable...not real fancy or neat, but very user friendly.)

Finally I am SO done with it and ready to move on.  To canvas and acrylic paint. 

The next steps pretty well speak for themselves so at this point I will shut up and let you look...if you have any comments or questions, please feel free.  I live to try to explain how my brain works with an idea. 

Hope this gives you a better idea of where to go for ideas.  Basically, that would be whatever is in front of your eyeballs, and makes your fingers itch to take up paintbrush and lay paint to canvas (or paper).  Give it a's fun to step outside that box and try something different.

For me?  Outside the box is trying to tame Big Girl into submission so I can capture the moments of my life, then paint them.  She's an ornery girl...but so am I.  :D

photo taken by Big Girl :D
Thanks again to Jim Brandano of JP Brandano Photography for inspiring me this month.  Check out his blog for some wonderful photographs and great tips on photography!


  1. thank you. i swoon at all the red but i love how you explain your process, like when you decide to add pen. gets ME thinking too!

  2. Sorry so long to comment my mac died and we were away from the house on a trip also. But now with a new drive, Im back>>> Love what you did with it. Really cool to see one of my images in water color. I am honored that you liked it enough to use.. Thank YOu


  3. @Eileen: glad you enjoyed the post. I liked painting the flamingo so much I painted it again. So I can keep one. (I always have to send my sample paintings to her for the month's lessons at our studio.)

  4. @Jim: thanks for the inspiration! You might want to hang around...your photo is going to be on my next post, when I show people how you can take one photo and paint it in different colors...

    thanks so much again for permission to use the photo!
    ~cath xo


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