Tuesday, 9 December 2014

A Look at my Process

Last Thursday I decided to enter a painting in the Creston Valley Bird Fest's "Festival Art Piece" competition. The image of the winning art piece will be used for posters, on the cover of the programs and other promotion material and the painting itself will be (I believe) auctioned off.

I thought I would use my work on the painting to show a bit of my process.
First, I look through my files to find a suitable reference photo. I have 3 files of bird pictures culled from magazine, calendars, my own photos and even some of my own paintings and drawings.
Next, I look through my file of pictures of the Creston Valley to find a proper background for my chosen subject. BTW, it is really hard to take photos of photos  - they are too shiny!
The next step is a drawing on newsprint to get my composition determined. I ended up doubling the size of the bird in the reference so I used graphs and tracing paper then transferred the enlarged picture on to my newsprint. Once I was happy with the composition I transferred it to my watercolour paper.
I never remember to buy proper masking film so I use strips of over-lapping masking tape to mask out the areas I want saved. I transfer the image onto the tape using my home-made transfer paper.

I use an exacto knife to cut carefully around my drawing and very carefully peel it off the support making sure to work from the right side so the tape stays together.
I attach the tape/mask image to my watercolour paper and used some masking fluid where the tape didn't cover. You will notice that the cattail under the tape has been painted.  I was half way into the painting when I realized my process would be a good subject for this blog so I back-tracked a bit to show the whole process.
Once I had the bulk of the background finished I removed the masking and worked on the fine details until I was happy with the finished piece.
Nest Builder

The bird is a Marsh Wren gathering cattail fluff for the nest and the background is a scene from the Creston Valley Wildlife Area. The painting is 14 x 18 and I think it would work well as a poster for the Bird Fest - it will  be interesting to see what They think!


  1. Love that fluffy little wren - especially the placement of her on the cattail!

  2. WOW Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your process.

  3. Thanks for sharing your process with us Val :) Wonderful work!

  4. HI Sheila, Thanks for your comment and thanks for the compliment!