Work in progress
Being at the right place at the right time. You can call it luck, but you can also call it perseverance. Going on lots of walks and carrying a camera heightens the chances for capturing good subjects for paintings. Sometimes one photo, with a little cropping and minor alterations, is all that is needed for a good composition. So it was with this painting. A morning walk with my wife on one of our trips - I don't even remember the location - brought us to a cluster of big sunflowers and goldfinches harvesting the seeds. In sketching the scene, the only adjustment I had to make was to rotate the goldfinch's head slightly to the left, to show more of a profile. The painting was executed in watercolor. To convey the impression of a bright sunny day, there is a broad range of values from dark in areas of shadow to almost white where the sun hits the foliage and the back of the goldfinch. Shaded flower head rays are orange while those in the sun are pure cadmium yellow. (To add a bit of science to the discussion, the sunflower is a composite, with large showy rays (vs.petals) surrounding the many small flowers in the center.) The "gold" in the goldfinch differs from the flower's rays in the lack of any hint of red. The back and head of the finch were done in cadmium yellow light with a wee bit of sap green, more green with some raw sienna in the shaded areas to virtually all cadmium yellow light on the indirectly lit flanks. Attention was also given to the variety of colors in the foliage, from turquoise to ultramarine blue to Hooker's green to sap green and yellow-sap green. Paying attention to such details makes the painting more interesting, more "real", and gives it depth. When all the forms were pretty well delineated, a dark background was done in a mix of Payne's gray, ultramarine, and alizarin crimson to make the subject leap forward. Finally, finishing touches were made, especially to the bird and the upper sunflower, and a title concocted: "Bursts of Gold," You can see the completed painting in the Songbirds portion of my online gallery.