Mutual Exchange

Among the things I love about teaching is getting to know workshop participants. I enjoy helping them learn new techniques and challenge themselves in order to grow as artists. And I love seeing the artwork they produce. But the exchange isn’t just one-way. My students push me to grow, too. This month, I’m teaching a four-week course focused on bird eggs, nests, and feathers, and it’s definitely forcing me to up my game. Here are two recent paintings I did, based on class assignments and with thanks to an exceptionally talented group of “Art of the Bird” participants.

California Scrub Jay Eggs
Black-chinned Hummingbird Nest

Tips & Techniques– Both of these paintings benefitted from a slow buildup of layers of watercolor. It’s especially important to have a delicate touch with eggs so that they remain translucent. I usually do a lot of experimenting to find the colors I want. For these paintings, I used combinations of raw sienna with phthalo blue as the main duo for the greens. You can see that I also carried raw sienna into the hummingbird nest, while mixing grays with combinations of raw and burnt sienna with cobalt and ultramarine blue. You might find doing a small mixing chart like this a handy reference for comparing color combinations.

20 thoughts on “Mutual Exchange

  1. These are lovely Jean and I appreciate them even more while being in your bird class. The backgrounds add so much. It’s back to the drawing board for me!

  2. I love the color combo you used, so calming and delicate, just like the subjects you painted. Your posts are also so calming to look at. Thanks for your work.

  3. Four weeks focusing on eggs, nests and feathers sounds like heaven. Are you doing any online classes? I would love to learn more about your beautiful layering techniques.

  4. I wish. Maybe next time. These are my favorite subjects and the colors you combine are a surprise for me. But I’m going to give it a go because your style is tried and true. So beautiful!

    • I often avoid phthalo blue because it can get too intense quickly. But mixed with a lot of water and the muted yellow/brown it behaved very well. The foliage I was looking at was very sage-colored, rather than a true green. I like the greenish-grays of this combination.

  5. I love your eggs and nest, Jean. As others have so perfectly said, your color choices and style are so delicate and calming. You have a gift for making even a heavy, opaque nest look light and lively. Just gorgeous! ~ SusanA

    • Thanks Susan- I took a risk to add the foliage and I think I overworked the nest a bit in the process, but I enjoyed trying something different. Part of the trick is to stay true to your subject, while altering it to suit your artistic sensibilities. Talk soon!

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