This one started as a winter scene but I honestly got confused with adding snow, so I swapped back to warm weather. I used two reference photos from Paint My Photo, and the branches and leaves were from observing the crab apple in our yard–with plenty of artistic license.
I used a piece of Strathmore 500 Illustration Board for this, and I absolutely loved it. It’s sturdy, takes water, and has a very minimal texture. Expensive? Yes, but it’s perfect for this medium.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever paint anything but birds. They’ve fluttered around my brushes and pencils and paper for the past few months, and now that I’m pairing them with Inktense as a medium, they’re not showing signs of flying south.
The Bluejay and Goldfinch photos come from Paint My Photo yet again, a wonderful place to find all those closeups you can’t take yourself.
Although I’m pleased with the rainy day Bluejay, I like the colors in the Goldfinch painting. Inktense is responsive to layering, so anything that looks plain or washed out can be strengthened with a quick second or third gazing.
Inktense takes some getting used to, but I’m becoming more and more fond of it as a pencil and paint medium. The pencils can seem overwhelming when water is added because their color is so intense. The blocks can seem difficult to use because they don’t spread out in water like watercolor and they tend to granulate.
Now that I’m spending more time with them both, however, I’m really pleased with my paintings. I can layer colors over other colors and not end up with mud. I can top off an area with pencil to get thin lines and highlights.
I really love the painterly effect, too, especially with this little wren. I put more effort into the background and branches with that one, too. With the crow, I nearly skipped the background, but I focused on creating an inky black with emerald green, gold, and blue highlights.
Yes, it’s a still a bird but at least I broke my streak of posting fountain pen sketches. This time around a used a Wikimedia Commons photo and my Inktense pencils and blocks. I’ve used Inktense a lot but almost always as a background with pastels or colored pencil layered over it. I had forgotten how wonderful they are to use from beginning to end. They layer beautifully, create interesting washes, and the white can be as translucent or opaque as needed–a real treat for someone who’s always struggling with saving white paper for highlights.
I love how this crow turned out and wish I would have gone to the trouble to use better paper with this one.