Friday, December 23, 2011

Winter feeding.

I have a steady stream of finches to my bird-seed feeder outside the window. Chaffinches, lots of Goldfinches and a regular flock of Redpolls.
Already, only 3 weeks into the "feeding season" (cold winter) I am already feeding a full feeder of bird-seed every day.
In the meantime the tits are happily eating sunflower seeds out the back from another feeder, and the Greenfinches seem to prefer the peanuts to the seed feeder.

At least the Redpolls eat most of the seed that the Goldfinches chuck away looking for the Niger Seed amongst the other varieties.

In the winter we usually get a wide variety of birds to our feeders, but so far this year there are very few other species yet. This is probably due to the mild weather we have had so far, when it gets colder it will force many birds further south and west to our more moderate climate.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Glenmacnass, Wicklow.

I have just finished (well almost) my last commission for Christmas. It is a view of Glenmacnass in Co. Wicklow, 1 meter square.
I have one or two little touches I wish to do, but in the main it is finished now.
I have photographed it along the way so you can see the work in progression, from the original sketch/design to the finished piece.
This is the Graphite sketch I worked from, giving me my composition and design.
The next stage was drawing and blocking in on the canvas with thin washes of oil paint.
followed swiftly by blocking in my base colours before rechecking my composition against reference photographs. Sadly it is too wintry to try to work on site at this time of year.

This was followed by further blocking in and a little re-drawing, mainly in the area of the waterfall and the larch trees to the top left.

This is a continuation of the blocking in process in the foreground, and I have been adding texture around the midground areas.

This is followed by further detail being added throughout the painting and adding more definition to the blocks of colour.

From here I have begun to finish off areas of the painting, mainly around the mid ground and the road and hedgerow leading to the cottage. I have also added life to the cottage roof.
From this stage on I have increased the detail around the Larch trees, the right hand hill and the cliff-face again. I have painted in the Birch tree over on the right hand side of the painting.
This is what unifies the whole of the right hand side of the work. The fine, strong branches, and the blockier twig areas binding the foreground to the background and a the same time taking the hard edge of the scree slope on the right and breaking it up, this is also helped by the green gorse bush growing out of it. I have started to bring the reds in by painting the fence in, with a rusty brown.
This final stage is where it has all come together. The repainting of the tree in the foreground. This has now been darkened and warmed up, and details such as the small branches added to break up the straight line again. The wire fence has been painted again, to reduce the red slightly as more purples, pinks and reds have been added to the tree itself making it a warmer grey than in the previous image, which has also brought the tree forward from the background cliff-face and the mid ground landscape.
Now the painting is finished as such the whole atmosphere has changed, and it reminds me of the weather we had the day I went up and took my reference photographs for the work.
I have managed to get light in the painting even though there was no sunlight to create highlights and shadows, and yet the work has the feel of a damp overcast November day.