Monthly Archives: June 2016

Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl (red morph)The Screech Owl is a small owl common in Eastern North America. It is typically no longer than 9 inches and is very active at night. You might think its call would be a screech but it is more like a trill. There are 2 color variations or “morphs” – gray and red (also called rufous). We will be painting a red morph in our drawing birds class this week.

I mixed Venetian red, copper beech, and chocolate brown for the feather colors. I also added golden brown to the lightest areas. The fluffier feather on the head have additional layers of dry watercolor pencil over top. The fine lines from the pencil are a fun and quick way to add texture. The screech owl’s eyes were the most fun to paint. The irises are a mixture of water green and gold.

This cute owl as well as many others are available from my shop. Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Chinese Bamboo

Chinese BambooTonight’s painting class features the ever popular subject Chinese Bamboo. It is made of four parts – the pole, the joints, the branches, and the leaves. To paint our bamboo we will be using the “wipe stroke” and learning the “bone” stroke.

The leaves may look similar to other strokes we have done but they are unique. They are made by landing the brush on the paper then slowly moving your arm (not your wrist) then lifting the brush off the paper. The grouping of leaves have wonderful names like moored boat, new moon, swallow tail, and landing geese to name a few. If you paint the leaves going in the same general direction with a gentle curve you give the impression of leaves blowing in the wind. Chinese Bamboo is not the easiest subject we have painted but with plenty of practice the results can be beautiful.

While bamboo is wonderful all by itself many paintings incorporate other elements. Landscape artists often include mountains in the background. Other paintings include birds and animals. The painting above includes a simple bird. The body is made from a “wipe” stoke. The head is made from bamboo leaf strokes. I’ll be demonstrating how to paint a simple baby panda in class.

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


P.S. Interested in seeing more bamboo paintings? Check out the bamboo greeting cards in my art shop.

Northern Cardinal

Female Northern CardinalThis week in our Drawing Birds class we will be painting the female Northern Cardinal. I think the subtle variations in her coloring are fascinating when compared to the predominant reds of the male. Her feathers have light reds, browns, and grays which give us ample opportunity for mixing colors. We’ll also be adding dry watercolor pencil strokes over the base washes to create the softer textures.

For this painting I used one of my favorite brushes – the waterbrush. It is a brush and water container all in one. The amount of water is controlled by how hard you squeeze the barrel. There are many brands and sizes on the market but I like the Niji medium size for painting birds and botanicals. They are portable which makes it an excellent addition to your travel art bag.

This painting and many other original art pieces are available from my shop.

Thanks for visiting and until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Painting Plum Blossoms

Painting Plum Blossoms - Plum and Bird
For our third project in Chinese Brush painting we will be painting plum blossoms. The plum blossom is associated with the winter season and symbolizes courage and hope. The branch is made with a “wipe” stroke and the blossoms with a “circular” stroke. You can paint the branch in a dark umber color if you like but I prefer to paint it in ink and only color the blossoms. I like the contrast it creates.

When you are painting plum blossoms you only paint a single branch, you don’t paint an entire plum tree. The blossoms are made of 5 petals when you see them face on. To show a side view you would only paint 3 petals and a bud would be a single “dot” stroke.

The branch can be challenging to paint at first but with some practice it gets much easier. There are specialty brushes you can purchase just for painting branches but I find a slightly drier combination brush works well.

In the painting above I added a little bird to my branch in shades of light gray. I didn’t want him to stand out too much from the blossoms. The blossoms were painted with permanent rose mixed with a little ultramarine blue. The lighter petals were painted with a diluted mix of the same colors. Definitely not the traditional color scheme but I wanted to create a slightly darker feeling scene like it was still cold outside when the blossoms were blooming.

Next week we’ll be painting bamboo the symbol of summer and the favorite food of giant pandas. Until then…keep those pencils sharp!


P.S. Check out the selection of Chinese Brush paintings in my shop including the plum blossom above.

Chrysanthemum Flowers

Chrysanthemum Flowers and Butterfly
Chrysanthemum flowers represent the fall season in Chinese Brush painting and it’s our subject for this week’s class. The brushstrokes of the chrysanthemum petals are similar to the orchid flower so we can focus our time on the leaves. The leaves are done with “wipe” strokes which means the brush is held at a 45° angle to the paper. You use the entire brush to make the stroke so that you get a nice full shape.

Purple Chrysanthemum FlowersI added a butterfly to my composition not only for visual interest but as another way to practice the strokes we’ve already learned. The larger wing is a vertical wipe stroke, the top wing is similar to the orchid petal (just a bit thicker), and the tiny back wing is a little horizontal wipe stroke. The body and wing details are added with the tip of the brush.

The red seal in the top left is a rooster which is the animal for the year I was born. I liked the design and thought it added a playful element to the piece.

You can also paint chrysanthemum flowers in a variety of colors. The purple one on the right is available from my shop.

Next week we’ll be painting plum blossoms. Until then…keep those pencils sharp!