Mixed Media Play—and a Gif Animation Experiment—with Pigeons of Course

September 21, 2012


Above: An animated gif of the first and then the final stage of this journal page spread painting. Wait 5 seconds and the image will toggle to the final version from the first stage, or vice versa, depending on where the cycle starts. Every 5 seconds it will switch. (I forget what type of pigeon this is, but it is a large, blocky bird with a powerful chest, a smaller head, and shorter beak than street pigeons and other fancy pigeons. (My Fair journal is in the other room so I can't look it up.) This is not an exaggerated sketch.

Update: Darn, after going live with this post it looks as if the animated gif doesn't work. It could be that I have something set up in my browser preventing it and it's fine on your screen, but if the first image in this post doesn't toggle every 5 seconds between the yellow paper version and the final painted version scroll down and see the final version at the bottom of this post. It's not as fun as seeing them merge one from the other, but you'll see both versions.

After multiple trips to the Minnesota State Fair and a whole lot of sketching pigeons from life I started making studies with my sketches for paintings.

For some reason I was working on yellow legal pad paper. It was handy. Then I got two sketches in a row that I really liked just the way they were.

I took the sketches and glued them inside my in-studio 9 x 12 inch Fabriano Venezia journal. I completed the sketches, extending the drawing lines onto the page spread. Then I applied various media and paints.

At first I thought I'd just paint the backgrounds of each spread and leave them that way. But I wanted to paint the figures too—so I compromised and painted one, shown above.   

Left: Detail of the painted version. You can see some of the texture of the different media and papers coming through the paint on the bird.

Now I am lost in the planning of a lot of really large bird paintings done this way—with lined paper collaged down or not? I don't know. 

Dick suggested keeping the birds smaller, because while he isn't bothered by birds, my large bird paintings seem to frighten people. He also didn't care for the yellow paper (which I adore).

Then Dick started laughing, "That reminds me of the scene in 'Tin Cup,'" and he quoted from the movie (he also frequently quotes from "Last of the Mohicans").

Roy McAvoy (Kevin Costner): Hey you ever shoot par with a 7-iron?

David Sims (Don Johnson): Why hell Roy, it never even occurred to me to try.

So why did I take this approach Dick wanted to know? Frankly it never even occurred to me to not try. That's the fun of creative play.

I just love the tape, the paper color and lines, the way the different media changed the texture of the paper, the way the gouache still worked so well on the paper. 

Take materials you don't use together regularly and mix them up. Don't worry about the finished product, just concentrate on what you discover in the process.

Above: Final painted version, shown here because the animated gif didn't work.

Note: If you'd like to learn the particular process I'm using in this series watch for an on-line class in 2013. I'm working on some tutorials that will contain some animated gifs (that will actually work!), and some videos. UPDATE: APRIL 2014—Sorry the class didn't happen in 2013. I cleared and cleaned Dick's parents' home of 60 some years and we settled them into assisted living. In the process I injured my shoulder and that led to another series of unfortunate events…so no online classes. If you would like to see a class of mine on line you can join in at Sketchbook Skool for Semester 1, which starts April 4, 2014. Gouache classses and binding classes and sketching classes from me on line will come sometime in the future, but probably not until 2015. Thanks for asking and for the great interest.

Note: If you'd like to work with gouache but never have, don't miss an opportunity to buy the fabulous Schmincke gouache at a super discount in the limited edition set of Schmincke Gouache available at Wet Paint. There are still some available.

  1. Reply

    Could be my computer? Animation not activating.

    Love the yellow paper and the idea of continuation! It seems a really good way to approach a composition- both deliberation and serendipity. FINE FINE BIRD. They have knowing eyes…

    • Miss T
    • September 21, 2012

    I love that, Roz!

  2. Reply

    WOW! LOVE THIS BIRD! The sense of dimension and texture is really impressive! it is a great visual to have with my lunch….( now I want to paint instead of do my grading!) Merci ROZ!

  3. Reply

    Thanks Miss T.

  4. Reply

    Ellen, I’m glad you enjoyed the painting. He was a fluffy bird. I hope you got some painting done AND your grading.

    • Caroline
    • September 21, 2012

    Love your pigeon! He looks like my little dove on a cold day when she fluffs her feathers out to keep warm! Its amazing how they can bulk out while being so tiny under their feathers! Its a pity the animation didn’t work, but the photos are great anyway!

  5. Reply

    Thank you Caroline. Do you have one dove or do your raise them? Do you enjoy sketching your dove? I’m afraid I would do nothing else. Birds always amaze me because they look bulky, but there is nothing there! I’m glad you enjoyed the sketches.

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