Marvelously Elusive

The marvel of bird eggs never escapes me. But painting them to perfection almost always proves elusive. I’ve been at it for years. I found these paintings done over the last 10 years in the back of my art file drawer this week and was reminded of the value of practice. Over and over, year after year, I learn, make mistakes, improve, try again. The trick with eggs is getting the edges clean and precise, while adding multiple layers of paint so that the egg takes shape. You can see that some of these made it and others didn’t. And the challenge of doing many eggs on a single page is that they all have to be right for the piece to work. So, I am curious– what’s your “egg?” What marvelous subject do you return to again and again in spite of difficulties and disappointments?

Eggs- variety

click to view larger

eggs-variety2_700px eggs-jay-crow_700px

Hummingbird and Murre Eggs. watercolor. 8x10

25 Comments on “Marvelously Elusive

  1. I read a good book on eggs recently, “The Most Perfect Thing” by Tim Burkhead. The diverse patterns and colors are amazing.

  2. We would make a good team because my eggs are birds. Sometimes they turn out great and can almost sing, but other times not so much. These eggs are so pretty and should be in a frame on a prominent wall, in my opinion!

  3. Your painted composition of the interesting eggs appear perfect to my eye plus being beautiful with designs and colors. Your constant diligent to return to the challenge of painting a successful clean painting has won out. Very nice.

    • Thanks! The birds do most of the work. But the practice has helped me figure out the best materials for the task and to improve my technique.

  4. Holy Crow, Jean. These paintings are just beautiful. Thank you for this look at perfection

    • Aren’t they incredible? I was able to borrow a tray of eggs from a museum to use for the first big piece. It was amazing to have them on my desk.

  5. you are an inspiration.. and my compulsion?.. my king charles chevalier spanial…I am on my 10th book of Luc, which sounds biblical!…over 1200 drawings of him and I wish I had done this with all my other dogs over the years..some of them are really good.. lots are not.. the eggs?.. exquisit.

    • Wow. Excellent! What great practice for a subject you love. I have a friend who drew her dog just a few times before he died and those those little pieces of art are gems. I’m sure you find that your dedication to drawing your spaniel translates to other subjects, too. Keep it up!

  6. Thanks for sharing your trips down memory lane, Jean, fun to watch your growth over the years.

  7. Its fascinating the differences between all the different birds. They look marvellous to me, but then we are all our own worst critic. My own ‘egg’ – I have two actually – feathers and shells. I just can’t resist picking up new ones when I’m out walking.

    • Thanks Chris! I did that first bigger piece long ago and learned not to use watercolor paper with a textured surface for eggs. I’ve also done eggs where I’ve screwed up the handwriting in the final stages. The piece with the hummingbird and murre eggs is one I am pleased with. I like doing feathers and shells, too…though feathers are fairly pokey to get right, too.

  8. These eggs are fascinating and so beautifully rendered. Thanks for the tips you gave to other commenters (like not to use cold press paper–makes perfect sense). My “egg” is beach finds and pieces of old quilts. I love all those old feed sack patterns.

    • Hi Susan- I can well imagine a fascination with old quilts– endless patterns. Beach finds too…there’s something about the discovery that makes them especially appealing.

  9. Jean, I was one of the friends that drove to Killington VT from Rochester NY. Always look forward to the visual delights with each of your postings. Was wondering if you sell prints of your eggs that were just posted? Lori

    • Hi Lori! So nice to hear from you! I’m getting ready to teach in VT again in a few weeks (Burlington). For egg prints- I have the hummingbird and murre eggs, and a set of nine songbird eggs, plus most of the ones in nests. Do you want to email me and I can give you details?

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