The Pressure of Handmade Christmas Cards

Robin Christmas Card (Watercolour)

Robin Christmas Card (Watercolour)

Before the weekend I was anticipating spending two whole days creating lots of Christmas Cards to send out to friends and family… I did manage to spend quite a lot of time painting, but a change in the weather and a change of watercolour paper made the results rather unpredictable.

Today we’ve celebrated our sixth day in a row of spectacular thunderstorms and thirty degree heat – I had forgotten how hard it is to paint when it gets hot over here, you have to be so much quicker! Despite many tries I’ve also really struggled to get a salt effect to work at all, probably due to the extra humidity. You can see here that the salt didn’t soak up the pigment to leave white starburst effects as you’d expect. Instead I’ve just got little dark blue dots… not exactly what I hoped for as a snow effect.

On top of that I started using some new watercolour paper for the first time: SAA’s own practice paper, 140lbs, rough. And I’m afraid I don’t like it very much – it ‘s a little less white than the Bockingford I’ve been using, and seems to carry less size as well, meaning that paint soaks in more readily and is harder to move around or lift off.

Despite all that this little guy is slowly coming along. His eye needs lots of work and a few other details need putting in, such as the branch, but it’s better than I expected after such a trial.

I also started to paint a gorgeous red cardinal but I didn’t get very far so I’ll have to share that with you next time 😉


Baby Robin Redbreast

Baby Robin redbreast (Watercolour)

Baby Robin redbreast (Watercolour)

Along with everyone else, I’m starting to think about Christmas and of sending cards… and how I should be painting my own… so  this gorgeous baby Robin in watercolour was a playtime session a couple of days ago to see how that might go.

He turned out quite well, after a couple of sittings – the salt didn’t quite work, but it suits the painting anyway, and I spent some time redoing the eye and beak area. The original is much bigger, but I think he looks better at this size.

So, I think this weekend might see a few more Christmas card subjects evolve. It has to be then or never because they mostly need posting overseas and time is running out.

I started looking into painting groups this week as well. I got so much out of the workshops a couple of weeks ago that I’m determined to find some other people to paint with… However, I’m almost resigned to the possibility of starting a watercolour group myself as there just don’t seem to be any around. I am going to check out a group next week, but they’re mainly oil painters and I really don’t know how that will work out. Watch this space 🙂

Technicolour Rainbow Lorikeet – watercolour painting in progress

Technicolor - Rainbow Lorikeet (Watercolour)

Technicolour Rainbow Lorikeet (Watercolour)

The deadline for Project Member’s Show is looming (2 days to go) and I still don’t have a finished painting to enter… and what did I do today? I went out for 3 hours paddling down the Cook’s river. Mind you it was a beautiful day, and perfect for a paddle. We’re also out all day tomorrow too, so not much chance of a last minute charge for the finish line 😛 .

Here’s what I have so far and I’m pretty pleased with it, but it’s funny how you see things differently once they’re scanned in the computer or on a web page. I hadn’t realised how abruptly the bird suddenly disappeared into nothing after having so much detail!

I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it yet… do I build up the lower half a bit, or fade out some of the already painted bits? Tricky… Maybe if I head off to bed now I can get an early start & have another go 😛

Watercolour Crayon Chicken

Chicken (Watercolour Crayon)

Chicken (Watercolour Crayon)

I’m coming to the conclusion that I need to rediscover some of the commitment that helped me paint every day last year… it’s so frustrating to be running out of time on so many days. This past weekend I’ve been attending a conference and have had evening meetings too, so the painting was put aside again. However, I did have a streak of determination today and sat to paint after Jim had gone to bed.

I’ve been zoo sitting this weekend too, for a friend who has chickens and a cat and is also minding another friend’s dog. So I have had my first chicken feeding experience. They’re funny things, all hustle and bustle… they look so self righteous 🙂

These particular bunch weren’t standing still very much so I had to take photos, which came in useful for painting this evening. These are my Caran D’Ache watercolour crayons which I found as a bargain buy a few years ago. I have to admit, I’m still not sure I like them even after all this time. The colours are nice and strong but they have no subtlety and it’s impossible to get any fine detail with them.

An interesting practise though, trying to get the correct colours by mixing those few available. Perhaps I should have tried some green as well, the black feather’s on this girl were amazingly iridescent.



White Faced Heron Sketch

White Faced Heron (Graphite)

White Faced Heron (Graphite)


Today has been long, very long, with hours and hours of computer work. It’s tedious but very satisfying when you get through it. As a result I missed the daylight for painting, but this has advantages too… it’s a long time since I did any drawing 🙂

So I found a quirky picture of a White Faced Heron to practise with from the Paintmyphoto website, courtesy of Pauline from Canada. It turned out a little bit heavy, because I found shading the grey feathers tricky, but at least I found time and motivation to put pencil to paper today.