My journal proved a good place to experiment this week with tufted titmice, dark backgrounds, and text. These birds often visit my feeders in winter, providing good opportunities for study. I thought I would sketch a few birds in different poses as time allowed, but after painting the bird on the left, I decided to take a different approach. I wanted to add big text and see whether I could get a bird to perch on the letters. It’s a little tricky to substitute letters for branches, but the bird on the right seems fairly convincing. I also wanted to try a dark background, so I experimented with different shades of blue, making swatches on a test sheet and holding them next to the birds to see what worked best. In the end, this combination of ultramarine and burnt sienna with a bit of water sprayed into the wet paint created a nice wintry effect. The letters are the reverse color mix, with burnt sienna dominating and some blue floated in to add a little weight. My next step will be to try the same techniques in a more careful painting— stay tuned!