Unlikely Friends

The dogs in this painting/card are named Mufasa and Rafiki.  As the card suggests they are truly friends.  They are friends because they live together, and to a large extent because they are both dogs.  Friends - A watercolor painting by artist Barbara Bromley with the word "Friends" hand painted, and two dogs who are looking at one another. I met them when I first submitted a rack of my cards to the Decorator Warehouse in Lexington.  Mufasa and Rafiki are “store dogs”, happily spending their days with shop owner Natalie.

Ironically and more unexpected friends:  Sam, our family dog many years ago, and “George”, the orphan baby blue jay.   These two became friends as I nursed George back to health.  I fed George every day with Sam, still a puppy, watching.  As the jay learned to fly Sam became very interested, especially when he saw the bird poop on my friend’s head and my drawing in the same day.  A watercolor painting by artist Barbara Bromley showing a dog and blue jay looking at one another. When he was ready we released George near the town home where we lived at the time.  When I walked Sam the blue jay would follow us, flying high in the sky.  When I swam in the complex pool, George perched nearby on the fence.  When I opened the door to our house, George would fly inside take a bath in the small tub of water on my drawing table.   The entire neighborhood came to know and delight in seeing George and Sam frolic together.

It was the perfect yet dangerous (for George) friendship, a result of how a baby bird imprints on whoever it spends time with, in our case a dog and humans.  Following this imprinting experience with George I learned how to care for wild animals in a way to prevent such connections.  My ignorance in George’s case gave us the opportunity to really appreciate the antics of George the Jay, and our puppy Sam.

Thanks for listening!

Barb

Watercolor Hummingbird Signature

Free as a Bird

Watercolor painting of birds perching on the hand-lettered text Watercolor painting of a Red Tailed Hawk, by artist Barbara BromleyWatercolor painting of a bluebird, by artist Barbara BromleyI have been a birder for as long as I can remember. Chasing after birds as they flew actually made me feel free and unencumbered. It was the birds of prey that caught my attention first. The hawks and owls with their fierce eyes were a pleasure to sketch and paint. In Florida I discovered brown pelicans, watching in wonder as they dove beak-first into the ocean to catch fish. They way their bodies “kerplopped” into the water in such a bizarre fashion intrigued me. Then there were the Osprey diving feet first to grab fish with their talons. Sometimes they misjudge the size of their prey and are pulled under the water to certain death.

When I met my (eventual) husband Steve, I found a fellow bird lover in his mom, who introduced me to wrens, finches, and bluebirds. We observed these lovely critters together as they fed from the feeder just outside the large picture window of her Michigan home. Winters were hard, but the birds in her area thrived thanks to the massive quantity of seeds in her feeder. Who needed TV? We had ready entertainment watching a great variety of birds just outside the window.

Watercolor painting of a Rufus hummingbird, by Barbara BromleyIn Texas the hummingbirds provided me with a favorite subject to sketch. I’d work on five different drawings in various poses as the hummers got “nectar” from our feeder. Every year a male black-chinned hummer would arrive perching on our peach tree waiting for females. After mating, off he went to chase another! The females laid eggs then raised two babies alone.

Watercolor painting of a Rufus hummingbird, by Barbara Bromley

While living in Texas our entire family observed the pea-sized eggs in a nest constructed of spider silk and lichens. As the young hummingbirds grew the silk stretched to accommodate their growing bodies.

photo-hummer-on-nestP1Another Texas favorite was the roadrunner, which mates for life. I observed one wandering about seeming greatly disturbed only to find his dead mate close by, the victim of a fast-moving car. It always amazed me to know that roadrunners are capable of working together to kill a rattlesnake, not quite the cartoon image from long ago…

In Massachusetts the nuthatches caught my eye as they moved down a tree trunk head-first. Another treat was watching marsh wrens at Great Meadows. When the babies were fledging the parents had to come out of their hiding places in the reeds to feed them. I was ready with camera and sketchpad!

sketch-singleducking-standing-P1duckling-sketch-P1

In Kentucky it was the common mallard ducklings that ticked my fancy. The young would follow their mommy anywhere including a busy street. I’ve also been shocked by the number of cooper’s hawks winging their way through housing developments instead of the forests for which their wings and tails were designed.

Get ready for my next blog about birds I’ve know “personally”.

Happy Birding to ALL!

Artfulbarb

Watercolor Hummingbird Signature

Mini Lesson – Painting the Cat

I should clarify the title:  we’re not literally painting the cat 🙂 🙂 🙂   This “mini-lesson” shows step-by-step how I created a watercolor painting of my cat, Abby.

  1. Begin by sketching the cat with an HB pencil.  Make sure your drawing is accurate!  Lighten the pencil lines by dabbing at them with a kneaded eraser.  Contrary to what most books say, once wet, these lines can’t be erased completely.

    Pencil sketch of cat, in preparation for painting a watercolor

  2. Mix the following puddles (a puddle is paint mixed with enough water to dilute it to the desired value):
  • Cobalt blue + Brown Madder (warm purple mixture)
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Sienna + Raw Umber
  • Burnt Sienna + Raw Sienna
  • French Ultramarine + Payne’s Gray + a bit of Alizarin
  • Sepia + French Ultramarine
  • Alizarin Crimson + French Ultramarine (make two puddless:  One very dilute warm & one cool)
  • Alizarin Crimson + Burnt Sienna
  • Raw Sienna + Ultramarine (very dilute for the cat’s eyes)
  • Viridian Green
  • Winsor Green
  1. Mask out small detail areas which you wish to remain white.

Use liquid frisket and a cheap brush coated with standard bar soap to “paint” these white areas.  When the frisket is dry it will look and feel a bit like dried rubber cement.

  1. Next I paint the base washes of the cat.

Base watercolor wash of a cat, in preparation for painting a watercolor

Glaze water over the entire cat until it glistens evenly;  drop in the following colors and combinations based on where they can be seen in the cat’s face:

  1. For the eyes use the diluted raw umber/ultramarine mixture;  then drop in viridian green;  add the pupil using sepia/ultramarine.
  2. For the ears paint the raw umber/burnt sienna mixture;  then drop in the cobalt/brown madder mixture;  finish with the ultramarine/Payne’s Gray/Alizarin mixture before the ear dries.
  3. For the face and body let raw umber/burnt sienna bump into ultramarine/Payne’s gray/alizarin, allowing the colors to blend alongside each other.
  4. Add Winsor green and drop in viridian for the collar.

** If necessary wet a section at a time to keep the paper wet while painting the cat.  It’s important that you paint wet-in-wet not wet-in-dry!!

  1. Allow all initial washes to dry completely.  Never paint into an area that has started to dry.
  2. Rub off the frisket to expose white areas.
  3. Add the final details:
  1. Use sepia/ultramarine for dark black highlights.
  2. Use Alizarin/burnt sienna for reddish highlights in fur
  3. Use a second glaze of raw sienna/burnt sienna and raw umber/burnt sienna to form the area around the mouth and nose.
  4. Use a 2nd glaze of alizarin/burnt sienna, cobalt blue/brown madder, and raw umber/burnt sienna for hightlights in the cat’s ears.
  5. The collar tag is created using alizarin crimson.
  1. Finally if you have lost whites such as the whiskers use a rigger brush and a diluted mix of permanent white gouache to paint over the watercolor.

Final watercolor of a cat.  Part of a mini-lesson tutorial for this blog artfulpassages.com

Hope you enjoy!  If you have any questions at all, please use the comment form below.

Thanks, and happy painting!

Watercolor Hummingbird Signature

Love painting flowers???

Watercolor painting Pansy with Lettering by Barbara Bromley a.k.a. artfulbarbMay has always been a time of blooming flowers which I love to smell, look at, give and receive BUT, until recently, NOT PAINT. I slowly, slowly began to add them to my hummingbird paintings because hummers go to flowers for the nectar. Then, because I love to teach and students really like painting flowers, I had to add flowers as main subjects; I just can’t turn down a student request.

Finally, I grew to love the joy all those beautiful flower colors brought to me. I think aging has made me enjoy colorful things! Who knew!?

I have been rewarded in all of my work because, thanks to painting flowers, I am a better colorist.

Happy spring to you!

Watercolor Hummingbird Signature

Mini Lesson – Watercolor Pansy

This “mini-lesson” shows step-by-step how I painted a pansy in watercolor.

  1. I begin by sketching the pansy with an HB pencil.  Make sure your drawing is accurate.  Lighten the pencil lines by dabbing at them with a kneaded eraser.  Contrary to what most books say, once wet these lines can’t be erased completely.

Watercolor Pansy Painting by Barbara Bromley a.k.a. artfulbarb on artfulpassages.com

  1. Using liquid frisket and a cheap brush coated with standard bar soap, mask out small detail areas which you wish to remain white. When the frisket is dry it will look and feel a bit like dried rubber cement.
  2. Mix the following puddles (a puddle is paint mixed with enough water to dilute it to the desired value):
  • Cobalt blue + alizarin crimson (warm & cool mixtures)
  • Aureolin yellow
  • New Gamboge
  • Alizarin crimson + new gamboge
  • Permanent rose
  • French ultramarine + alizarin crimson (warm and cool mixtures)
    Sap green
  • Winsor green + Hooker’s green + new gamboge
  • Hooker’s green + cobalt blue
  1. Next paint the base washes of the flower petals.

Watercolor Pansy Painting by Barbara Bromley a.k.a. artfulbarb on artfulpassages.com

  1. Glaze water over a petal until it glistens evenly; drop in the following colors and combinations based on where they can be seen in the petal): cobalt blue+alizarin; permanent rose, alizarin + new gamboge, and aurelion.
  2. While the first petal is drying, follow the same process on a petal which does not touch it (remember we don’t want wet paint to touch an area that is drying).
  1. After the base washes are completed on all 4 petals paint the dark purple sections following these steps:
  1. Using a fully loaded brush paint the dark area
  2. Then pull color out from the center of the dark area using a rigger brush to create the veins.
    * Use thicker puddles of both cool and warm mixes of French ultramarine + alizarin crimson for this area.

Watercolor Pansy Painting by Barbara Bromley a.k.a. artfulbarb on artfulpassages.com

  1. Add highlights to the edges of the petals by glazing over the base washes with the same mixtures.
  2. Rub off the frisket and add a light tint of yellow below the center part of the flowers. Leave the two white areas on the center of the right and left petals.
  3. Paint the base washes of the stem and leaves.
  1. Glaze water over the leaves and stem until they glisten evenly; drop in the following colors: Sap green, hookers green _ cobalt blue, and Winsor green + Hooker’s + new gamboge
  2. Add highlights by rewetting each darker area and painting a second glaze over it using the same mixes as were used in the base.

Watercolor Pansy Painting by Barbara Bromley a.k.a. artfulbarb on artfulpassages.com

If you have any questions, please add a comment below or grab me via the contact form.

Thanks,

Watercolor Hummingbird Signature

Mini Lesson – Watercolor Hummingbird

This “mini-lesson” shows step-by-step how I painted a hummingbird from one of my photos.

  1. I begin by sketching the hummingbird with an HB pencil.  Make sure your drawing is   accurate!  Lighten the pencil lines by dabbing at them with a kneaded eraser.  (Contrary to what most books say, once wet, these lines can’t be erased completely)

artfulpassages.com - Hummingbird Watercolor Lesson - Start w/Pencil Sketch

  1. I then mix the following puddles (a puddle is paint mixed with enough water to dilute it to the desired value):
  • Cobalt blue + Brown Madder (warm & cool mixtures)
  • Winsor Blue + Viridian Green
  • Sap Green
  • Alizarin Crimson  + New Gamboge
  • French Ultramarine + Payne’s Gray + a bit of Alizarin
  • Sepia + French Ultramarine
  1. Next I paint the base washes of the bird.

artfulpassages.com - Hummingbird Watercolor Lesson - Paint base colors

  1. For the eyes, feet, and beak use the Ultramarine/Payne’s Gray / Alizarin mixture.  Leave the white highlights untouched.
  2. For the back of the bird paint the Winsor Blue/Viridian mixture.  While it’s still wet add Sap Green next to it, letting the colors bump each other.
  3. For the belly, let Sap Green bump into the Cobalt Blue/Brown Madder (warm) puddles, letting the colors blend alongside each other.
  4. For the wing and head, use both the warm and cool Cobalt/Brown Madder mixtures;  then drop a little Sap Green into them while still wet.
  5. The rosy area under the belly is painted with Alizarin/New Gamboge.
  1. Allow all initial washes to dry!  Never paint into an area that has started to dry.
  1. Add the final details

artfulpassages.com - Hummingbird Watercolor Lesson - Add details

  1. Use the Sepia/Ultramarine mixture for dark highlights on the beak and feet as well as in the eye.
  2. For wing highlights use the cool Brown Madder/Cobalt mixture.

If you have any questions, please add a comment below!

Thanks,

Watercolor Hummingbird Signature

Happy 59th birthday to me!

Welcome to my blog!

Come join me as I celebrate my last year in the “frantic fifties” and document my “Artful Passages” into my sixties and beyond.   In my artful blog/journal I’ll use writing, painting, drawing, and photographs to chart my blog-journey.

Since its my birthday and all, I deserve some cake don’t you think? In lieu of the real thing, let’s serve up a couple watercolors instead.  Lots less calories!

 artfulpassages.com - Watercolor Birthday Cakeartfulpassages.com - Watercolor Birthday Cake

Thanks for making this passage with me!

Barb

Watercolor Hummingbird Signature