View Full Version : Nuthatch - acrylic

01-01-2001, 05:01 PM
<IMG SRC="http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/User/nutstoyou.jpg" border=0> Now I can see the whole thing.

Is this size better?


[This message has been edited by arlene (edited January 01, 2001).]

01-01-2001, 08:36 PM
Hrm, Darrell's size works better for me and it still could be bigger for my resolution. I'm running at the standard 800x600. He's got a lot of detail work there than you can't see in a smaller image.

Someone mentioned in Critiques that those branches are too uniform and I kinda agree with them.

I was in the middle of doing a one of MY nuthatches when you posted this :P

Now that we're into winter, a lot of my favorite birds have gone away and been replaced by new birds. Dark-eyed juncos, mostly. I think they've invaded me.

Sheesh. I had an entire flock (14-21 at a time!) of mourning doves living at my feeders over the summer. They foraged for dropped seed from the sparrows and titmice and I couldn't keep up with them. It's hard to keep the old seed from molding on the ground. They got so crowded that avian pox broke out! I clean those feeders and the fountain with bleach every two weeks and that didn't even help. I ended up taking the feeders down for two weeks to dispense those birds. Thank god it didn't spread to the sparrows.

Hope they don't congregate like that this spring.

<FONT face="Script MT Bold"><FONT COLOR="#AB4835"><FONT size="5">Roan</FONT s></FONT c></FONT f>
<FONT COLOR="#8A1010">Nollaig Shona Dhuibh! Merry Christmas!</FONT c>
RoanStudio.com (http://RoanStudio.com) &lt;-- pastel open stock vendor sources & reviews!

01-01-2001, 08:47 PM
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Kevin M
01-01-2001, 08:56 PM
Nice painting, Darrell (as usual).

Regarding the image size I am looking at it on 19" Trinitron set at 1280x1024 and its size is 5" x 5.7" and is as sharp and clear as a fine grain transparency.

01-01-2001, 11:59 PM
hi Darrell http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif I love this little nuthatch and the quality of light you have painted that wraps around the tree trunk and over the little bird... a very authentically wintery sky...weak light, but in the fading glow of twilight, still soft and beautiful..........Jane

01-02-2001, 12:18 AM
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My pet nuthatch lol
This little bird will come to my hand this time of year. I get a lot of chances to study them and take pics..I love the way they run up and down tree trunks like gravity doesn't exist. This is my first bird and i really enjoyes this painting...can't wait to do another...black capped chicadees are abundant there and I have dozens of pics and sketches...so maybe I will try them next time.
comments or suggestions always welcome...it's not quite finished.....lots of fiddly bits left to ponder.


01-02-2001, 11:14 AM
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here is a detail scan of the nuthatch..I can see a lot more to do there but I will fiddle with it until it leaves my hands someday.

01-03-2001, 02:37 PM
Nice work Darrell...

"Art attacks can skill!"

01-04-2001, 05:50 PM
Thanks Roan, sassy, kevin Jane and Larry.

Larry I am astounded..lol..I usually read the first part of your posts ...have dinner...read some more...mow the lawn...then come back to finish up..lol

you ok bud??? :-)


01-13-2001, 10:58 PM
lots going on here Darrell....just returned from a hard funeral of a former student and basketball player of mine. Busy with things, etc; sorry I came off sounding so short and no major critique. Didn't mean to sound disinterested or anything.

This piece, because of the solid colored background..yet comes off as a vignette type piece of work for me. That puts it in a different category for which reasons one makes such a piece and critiques/judges such a piece. A vignette type work allows for many personal touches from very tight realism, to painterly...to illustrative, etc;

I think the piece works fine....but as a criticism, I don't think the color rythym is sustained since the warm tones of the background are nowhere really repeated in any of the foreground work. You try and put browns in the tree...yet any hint still has an overall violet flavor.

Again...it works fine as is as a vignette, yet if the tree exists in the environment of the background, the color of the background would influence the subject...and the subject would be an influence of the background. Does that make sense?

You could also exaggerate the shadow immediately beneath the nuthatch, making it darker for contrast sake and adding a sense of drama, quickly getting lighter as the shadow moves away from the bird. It appears though...that a cool light is hitting the left side of the tree and bird, and this warm background makes it feel plastic

I would warm up the lighting of the tree using warm colors...yellows, oranges, etc; which then would also cause the cool colors of the shadows to play against each other more dramatically. I would also use warm colors on the sunny side of the bird.

Not an earth shattering observation...and the anatomical properties of your bird appear to be quite accurate, but perhaps just enough to maybe help you consider if it might be improved.


"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!" Edgar Degas

01-14-2001, 01:57 AM
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Thanks for your comments larry....sorry to hear about yout student.
all of what you have said rings true...I have done a lot of work on this painting since I first posted. I can never leave anything alone.
I think I have alredy addressed some of your concerns..I am still new at this however and am the first to admit that I am no colourist.
Besides painting an eagle portrait, this my first bird painting. I have excellent photographs of this bird and many others I want to paint soon..as well as field sketches. Black capped chicadees are my next attempt, and a beautiful blue heron I was lucky enough to capture on film this summer. Let me know if it looks a bit better to you now...thanks.


01-14-2001, 04:00 AM
Much greater sense of drama now....I think it works to make a much more pleasing piece to look at. The heightened sense of drama causes it to be a composition that the eye can now find enough intrigue to hold interest! Good job....

Wildlife art has a wide open system of thought as to what publishers/artists and the public thinks works. Carl Brenders, whom I met in Minneapolis at the Hyatt Regency Western Wildlife show...tediously renders every detail in gouache. His work is fabulous.

On the other hand...as a painter who is evolving, I am finding such works myself less interesting. In all fairness however, consider that I have been doing this for over 20 years...so, it is not that such works lack validity. I'm just getting bored. I look now for what hasn't been done or achieved as well to be more interesting, and perfectly detailed "everything" has been mastered by so many that it has become ordinary and routine.

Thus...my wildlife paintings will no doubt begin to take on the lessons I have learned painting directly from nature in the form of plein airs. This will make them more interesting for me and since there are art lovers of many kinds...I know there will be a segment that will enjoy what I do.

Thus...(and I share all that), as you take to heart my thoughts, filter thru them knowing where I'm at.

I'm no longer bedazzled and drop dead amazed at works like Dan Smith, Bruce Miller, etc., I do like Gary Moss's work of late. I was a participating artist at Wild Wings 1998 Fall International invitational....and a number of wildlife artists have taken up plein air painting. Gary is one whose plein air work is affecting his wildlife work, where he is suggesting more and more detail and his paintings are beginning to look more like paintings.

One might at first ask, why the interest to make them look less real? The answer is... to the trained eye, they do not look less real. To the untrained eye...the artist manipulates their eye to see what he intends anyway so walks away still thinking the work realistic.

A looser painterly approach allows for the eye to read between the lines, so-to-speak, and psychological demands more of the viewer. Sorta like the parables Christ told. Those that listened and walked away thinking them thru again and again suddenly got it! ...that is, the deeper truths He intended. Others that would not invest of themselves time to think them thru, took them only at face value and didn't quite get them.

However...for truth to sink in and root very deep to become part of one's being, it requires something of the hearer/viewer to interact and participate. Otherwise, the viewer just goes..."oh...that's a tree! That's a deer! That's a nice musky!" etc;

Thus...while many young wildlife artists are looking at older more familiar icons in the wildlife art industry as mentors or models for their work...what many younger artists do not know is that those artists are tired of their works and slowly moving on like myself to evolve their skills and emphasis.

So...we are learning things like how to say more with less. One way to do that is downplay what you DON'T want the viewer to look at. You have done that in your latest rework here by making the shadowed area of the tree's texture more obscure in the shadow and of less interest. Thus, by comparison that causes the area lit up to psychologicaly register as MORE INTERESTING! The eye goes to that area. By learning to manipulate the way the viewer's eye will work its way thru a painting, you as an artist are also taking a more active role in creating good and workable composition. Thus, you invest of yourself the energy to make that area perfect in anatomical understanding, tree texture, etc; you beef up the intensity of the hues; tweak all the contrast possible from complimentaries....etc; Therefore, in summary what you DO NOT SAY as an artist becomes as important as what you do say.

The image...thus laid out using more limited expressive brush and color work becomes for people visually like the parables of Christ did verbally/literally, (or any good parable writer/author for that matter). It is not completely all spelled out in every detail where it does not require of the viewer something of themselves to take in. It becomes a bit more intriguing..and the viewer, taken in by the piece stands there to investigate why? It sinks in...and they sense a greater life to the work than simple object recognition of other artists intensely detailed works.

Here is a simply exercise. Hold your hand up, look at it...and keep your eyes focused there. Note peripherally how all other objects in the room appear blurred. They do not appear in high definition detail. Thus, even the eyes MUST play all other things down for you to take in the hand which you have made dominant by looking at it.

The same when hunting ruffed grouse or partridge. You walk thru the woods, and your eyes taken in every detail of all the leaves, the trees...forest floor, stumps. All the colors are browns and grays, and strangely enough the colors of the bird are the same. What accounts then for the fact that once the bird goes airborne...that the sportsmen's eyes can affix themselves to this one smaller isolated brownish/gray blur and throw up their shotgun on it for a quick shot?

The fact that the eyes will in focusing blur out all other details that are unnecessary to the need to see what is at that moment important.

Even when a viewer looks at a Carl Brender's highly detailed piece...while he is looking at one wolf's facial features...the ground he is laying upon appears blurred, (just like the objects aside of your hand did).

You are not making your work appear less realistic than Brenders by minimalizing the importance of all other subordinate objects when that which you the artist deem important draw attention to that subject you intend.

Some artists in fact, are beginning to feel that causing all objects in their works to be highly detailed as is the main subject actually serves to lessen the value of the subject or detract...distract. As a result the work becomes a stale registration of detail, and the thrill for which why the artist painted the work is missed.

It is ultimately those works that affect the viewer that will find the patron needing to buy it and take it home.

Buyers are becoming more and more educated about art works...and have gone beyond mere object recognition. They are interacting more with the works, and it is due to their intrigue with "why?" something captures their interest that keeps the work interesting. As buyers become "used" to good works to the point of evolving themselves, their appetites become somewhat desensitized, and their aesthetics begin to demand more. Thus....there exists now a greater and greater freedom for wildlife artists to experiment and find their niche with less and less fear of not having to become a Brenders in order to sell.

In fact....some wildlife artists have become trapped and locked into a style recognition and can't for the life of them paint differently because the public has associated a style to them. Terry Redlin, for example. Thus...to feel like an artist, many wildlife artists are painting on the side...such as plein air landscapes.....and have developed an attitude toward their own notoriety and works that sell as their necessary "bread and butter" works...but they have lost personal creative interest in them. They have become works or labor. Fulfilling publisher demands.

Well....I poured myself out here. *whew* woke up and couldn't sleep. I hope Animal and others will read thru all this, and consider some of what I say. I have rubbed shoulders with many knowns...and understand the industry. In fact...I was sorta one of the knowns in my sector of the midwest region for a good many years. I'm open to field questions.

I don't think wildlife art is dead..but it did suffer a period where it had grown stale, and many galleries had lack of sales to assess this. Many wildlife art publishers began to refuse to take on new talent keeping only those who already had established a buying market. I think wildlife art to be marketable and regather patron interest, it has to become again interesting. That we have such an interest today in landscape painterly realism might say a few things to those "who have ears to hear"

Larry http://lseiler.artistnation.com http://www.artsmentor.org

"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!" Edgar Degas

[This message has been edited by lseiler (edited January 14, 2001).]

01-14-2001, 11:18 AM
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I think this is what Larry was trying to tell you...I took the paint program and did a rough version of what larry was saying.

By blurring out the background and parts of the tree, your eye immediately focuses on the bird.

The best way for you to show the differences is to probably become less detailed the further away from the bird you get in the picture.


[This message has been edited by arlene (edited January 14, 2001).]

01-14-2001, 11:51 AM
Yes...this piece works very nicely that Arlene has visually articulated. Even the softening of the tree's left edge. There is no question here where the eye should find interest.

However...that is not to say there is not a sector of patrons/viewers whom will like anything you have done thus far. IT matters most to how you are evolving as a painter. Find it first of all of interest for yourself, and there will be viewers that likewise find your vision interesting. As I am evolving...I find what Arlene has done to be effective.


"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!" Edgar Degas

[This message has been edited by lseiler (edited January 14, 2001).]

01-14-2001, 01:09 PM
Let me be a little clearer...unlike larry's take, i don't believe the way to go is by blurring. I think the way that you might want to approach it in the future is to be less detailedthe further u go away from your main point of interest.

Where I did blurring, you would do less detail, while still keeping the crispness


01-14-2001, 01:28 PM
Hhhmmm...hopefully I did not confuse, as I thought I had said I liked the "softening" of the edge, and if without going back to look I said, "blurring" I suppose that would be a photoshop quick way of suggesting something similar. Again...I apologize for any confusion.

As goes "softening" of the details, I would be implying doing technically that which would suggest less detail. Certainly...I wouldn't know how to use a brush to blur, and wouldn't want anyone to think I would endorse such. peace.....


"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!" Edgar Degas

01-18-2001, 07:07 PM
Well, after reading all of the comments i have to say that i remain a DDuchene fan of the crispness and freshness he brings to his work. Softening/blurring may do something for some pictures but on Darrells work i say 'Stay just the way that you are.' you cannot loose in my book.

01-18-2001, 07:39 PM
No argument from me. Yes...it certainly works.

Hopefully...what will be understood from my ranting was more about the direction wildlife art and a good number of other artists are going, thoughts many are thinking, questions they are having, the way the market is changing, who galleries are beginning to look at, why? etc., which I would only hope might be reflected upon and not taken as a serious critique. Sorta like a bunch of us wildlife artists were at a show walking around and talking shop while someone else watched our booths.

In fact...Jim Lamb's work, Gary Moss..and many others...all their works work great! I simply share my own evolution as a former detailist. I will admit that for a competition's sake, I will revert to what is necessary to win or end as a finalist. Off the record, if someone asks if the win is one of my best works...I'll have to have 'em go for a walk with me, and talk shop!

Certainly no change is necessary, and I'll agree....the work is fine as is.

Larry http://lseiler.artistnation.com

"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!" Edgar Degas

[This message has been edited by lseiler (edited January 18, 2001).]

01-29-2001, 01:21 AM
Hey Larry, you've brought up a lot of issues that are close to my heart...I, too, have been painting wildlife/animals for close to 20 years...I've been in some of the bigger shows/galleries with the Canadian biggies...Bateman, Brent Townsend, Michael Dumas, George McLean (I've visited him in his studio), etc...

I agree..wildlife art is expanding, growing in new directions. But it is not just about style, or how you apply the paint (although I agree here, too...I've always loved Carson & Kuhn)..wildlife art is being presented in a new way, using metaphor, dynamic compositions, twisting reality in new ways.
Did you see the article on Ron Kingswood in the latest issue of "Wildlife Art"? Fabulous stuff..large canvases that really push the composition, as well as the impressionistic style, while remaining true to nature. I've seen his originals, & the sizes have definite impact. Dwayne Harty is another Canadian wildlife artist that is pursuing his own colour sense, as well as his style. These 2 artists are just a small sample of nature artists who are making their work Art rather than "wildlife art", and neither are making their work accessible to the publishing market.

Although I have a small number of reproductions, most from Ducks Unlimited Canada, I have decided that reproductions are out for me...rather, I have linked up to a great rural gallery that is in tune with my focus of trying to produce & sell original work that hopefully, will help break the barrier of Art/wildlife art. I no longer call myself a wildlife artist (I paint domestic animals, as well as wildlife in nature)...I prefer the term nature artist...it's not as limiting.

I really like your plein aire works, Larry. The passion, the colours...they're heightened & alive. Here's hoping that there will be huge leaps & bounds in our chosen field, & we won't be dismissed from the larger art world because of our much loved subject matter.

ps..couldn't help myself...I just got another star! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

[This message has been edited by dodger (edited January 29, 2001).]