31 May 2006

Tale of Two Chickadees

I've finally come down off my little high from last night. You see, last night I had an auction end for a watercolor painting of a bluebird on handmade paper. Since I had a little bidding war, it went for more than I had expected. Since eBay has been so slow lately, I figured maybe $20, but it went for twice that! Yippeee!!!

Now, I just need to not expect this from every auction. And I also need to try not to dulplicate the painting. (Each painting needs to be done in and for itself -- not as something like this other one.) Neither thing is easy to do, but I'll try.

Anyway, before the bluebird sold, I had started on a chickadee because I like chickadees. Well, I did one and wasn't totally happy with it, so I did another. Both are on handmade paper, but one is waterleaf and the other is sized. (Probably need to explain that.) Here's the two paintings:

This chickadee was done on handmade paper that a local lady makes for me. The paper is unsized, or waterleaf, as it doesn't have any sizing. Sizing prevents the watercolor from soaking into the paper. Since this is unsized, the watercolor soaks in and the paper buckles considerably. It will need to be flattened before I can sell it. The watercolor has a soft look as hard edges are almost impossible. Hence, the soft breast feathers are easy, but the edges on the tail are tricky to do.

This chickadee, on the other hand, was done on handmade paper which had been sized. The paper is from India and is definitely handmade as the texture is uneven and the edges are deckled. The watercolor sits on top of the paper -- doesn't soak in -- so edges are crisp. In fact, I had a difficult time getting the breast to look soft like a puffy chickadee. The pine needles were a snap, however. The other problem was to get the black to be black (or any darks very dark). The sizing prevents the paint from soaking in so a damp brush can be used to 'erase' minor mistakes, but this also means that putting a new layer over another layer can 'erase' the bottom layer too.

Anyway, this was an interesting experiment. I tend to adapt my working habits to the characteristics of the paper I use, but I didn't realize how different these two papers were until I did two similar paintings one after another. Personally, I like the unsized paper better, because of the softness.

As a footnote, I took the plunge and added some blue sky to the first chickadee painting. And then added the tiny branch. And suddenly it looked a whole lot better! Now I just have to figure out which one to list on eBay, because I don't want to list both at once. I don't want to flood the chickadee painting market!

No comments: