Finches: Some Studies

June 4, 2013


Above: Fince studies, various pens, on Nideggen paper (in a 7 x 7 inch journal I made with it)—and some stenciling with rubberstamp inks. Oh, the white is from a Montana acrylic paint marker—and that red sketch is watersoluble ink so the white marker picked up the red and made PINK. Even better because I discovered in April that I love PINK. (Left page cropped for privacy.)

I would have to say that one of the perks of the new living arrangements for Dick's parents is that daily I get to see lots and lots of finches up close and personal. I have to walk by an aviary every day. I stop and sketch the birds and also take a couple photos for later to refine my sketches. 

Nothing calms me more than watching birds for a little while. I understand why they are part of the facility.

Once in while my in studies pay off. The bird labeled "Yes" will become a painting.

(I used Brilliance rubberstamp ink pads to stencil the pink and copper on these pages, and Versamark White for the white stenciling on the bottom page spread. You can see me demonstrate how I use this very stencil in my portion of the presentation of 3 favorite tools in Favorite Tools of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective—Part 2 [I'm in part two.])

Below: More finch sketches, on a background that I had pre-stenciled with rubberstamp inks (pink and white). I worked some gouache into this spread as well, and also used gouache that was on the palette to outline some of the stencil design and write some notes. 7 x 7 inch handmade journal with Nideggen paper for pages.


  1. Reply

    These make me so happy, these finch sketches with surprising pink. LOVE them, Roz. Your work sings. And chirps. And warbles.

    • Margo
    • June 4, 2013

    Sooo cool…and it gives me a different attitude about the use of stencils and stamps.

    • PeggySu
    • June 4, 2013

    I really like this layout. BTW, thank you SO much for taking and posting the meeting videos. Made me realize that it has been way too long since I’ve been in a room full of so many interesting, articulate, and generous people.

    I’d never seen your method for quickly adding a bit of stenciling and really like it. It’s somewhat similar to Julie Fai-Fan Balzer’s great “dab on, dab off” method. She uses make-up sponges which you can get for almost nothing at a “dollar” store.

    Here’s Julie’s method. Put a bit of acrylic paint on a plate. Dip the end of the sponge in the paint. (Dab on.) Pat the excess paint off somewhere. (Dab off.) Stencil with the remaining paint. Repeat as necessary.

    This can produce crisp edges even with those very liquid Americana acrylics. It only takes a tiny bit of practice to discover how much paint to use so you get crisp edges or whatever effect you want. Julie uses scissors to cut the end off a sponge when the paint has dried so that end doesn’t work any more. That lets one continue to use the same sponge for quite a while.

    • Karen
    • June 4, 2013

    Love the colors and the stenciling, Roz. Especially love the toned paper and use of white. Regarding birds in nursing homes, yes they all have them and it makes visiting a lot more fun. I had a parrot friend at Sholom. I kind of miss seeing him now that Ed’s gone and I don’t go there anymore.

    I asked about the aviary one time when I was visiting my brother. The social worker told me they had tried a tropical fish tank but it put all the residents to sleep. The birds have more behaviors to observe. Overall, more interesting than fish.

  2. Reply

    Thanks Laura. The birds are keeping me sane.

  3. Reply

    Margo, I have used stencils a lot over the years, but the intensity with which I used them in my fake journal this year has created quite a HABIT! I love them. I have a large collection of both commercial and custom made rubberstamps that I’ve used since the 1980s, but I also got a lot of them out for the fake journal this year and they haven’t been put away yet!

  4. Reply

    PeggySu, glad you enjoyed the meeting video with everyone’s suggestions for tools and techniques. They are the best group of people.

    I don’t use acrylics in my regular journals (the 2013 Fake journal was a HUGE exception) but I do use them in my paintings and while I don’t know Julie Fai-Fan Balzer the technique of dabbing with the acrylic paint over stencils in my paintings is something that I routinely do. I love her idea which you mentioned, or using cosmetic sponges.

    Since I don’t use acrylics in my journals, but did like to get similar effects to what I would do in my paintings I experimented with stamping ink brands until I found one that was waterproof when dry and use it in my journals. As I mention in my portion of the video that brand is “Brilliance.” There are other brands which you can work with but some like Color Box are too floral smelling, and others smell like harsh chemicals. Brilliance is just right. And I can stamp or stencil with it and it will dry almost immediately and I can paint over it with watercolor or gouache (or acrylic for that matter, but I don’t use acrylics in my journals as I said, regularly).

    Stamp inks from Brilliance then give me all the functionality that I’ve always enjoyed in my acrylic paintings out side of my journals.

    If you look at the video of my 2013 Fake journal you’ll see lots of stenciling with American acrylics because those are what I purchased to use with the Gelli Arts Plate. Since the little bottles were out on the table it was quick and easy to stencil with them later. It’s too, too fun not to do. And of course I had just about every shade of PINK in the Americana acrylics line.

    I am trying to break the habit and stop stenciling on everything!

    Where you use the little stamp pads, buy reinkers and daub it on with paper towel or sponges, or go with acrylic paints I hope you get some stenciling done in your journal. It’s crazy fun.

  5. Reply

    Thanks Karen, I’m glad you like those colors. I would have predicted you’d like that white on tan. Very fun.

    You need to visit your parrot friend!

    I watch the fish at the doctor’s office when I go there (the one out in Stillwater by you) and sometimes sketch, but they are definitely not as fun as the birds.

    Birds are, as you say much more interesting, AND they are interested in YOU. I have found that many of the finches watch me as intently as I watch them (and out of curiosity, not fear—though the European Goldfinches are very spooked little guys and easily flustered, also, and I don’t know if this is just these birds or the EGFs in general now, but the ones in this aviary have long CROSSED bills. REALLY LONG TIPS and while they are colored like Carel Fabritius’ painting, which I know you know I love so much there is no way you can sketch them faceforward like he did and have the same bill shape. Do you know anything about this??? Breeders selecting badly? Change over time? It is fun, however to see them in the aviary. The first time I walked by and saw them out of the corner of my eye I did a double take because I immediately recognized them.)

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