Horned Larks in Snow (Transparent Watercolor 9.25 x 24 in)

Horned Lark in Snow (Transparent Watercolor on Arches 140lb HP paper 9.5 x 24in)

Horned Lark in Snow (Transparent Watercolor on Arches 140lb HP paper 9.5 x 24 in)

Horned Lark in Snow (detail 6 x 8 in)

Horned Lark in Snow (detail 6 x 8 in)

Horned Lark in Snow (detail 8 x 12 in)

Horned Lark in Snow (detail 8 x 12 in)

Horned Lark in Snow (detail 2.5 x 3.5 in)

Horned Lark in Snow (detail 2.5 x 3.5 in)

I really love these birds. There is just something hilarious about a cute little bird with those tiny devil horns! They had been begging to be painted for a long time. Finally they made it to the top of the list. Hmmm, what should be next… maybe a Fox Sparrow?

I’ve moved toward smaller pieces in the past few years. My initial move to the smaller format was to create a higher number of paintings with increasingly limited time. I thought that by having less surface area to cover I’d be pumping out the paintings. Instead I found that I was just packing more and more detail into smaller and smaller areas. I did notice a general time savings, but it wasn’t nearly proportional. I went from 11 x 14-inch paintings down to 8 x 10 and sometimes 5 x 7 and was only seeing a reduction in time of about 25 percent!

The small format had a serious advantage in that I was able to scan in the art as I was creating it in order to show how they were made. With the bigger 11 x 14-inch paintings, I’d have to scan in segments and then seam them together in Photoshop. That isn’t exactly where I wanted my spare time going. I spend enough time in Photoshop for my “Day Job.” In the past I painted several 18 x 24-inch watercolors and even created one about 1.5 x 8 feet. The 18 x 24s could be scanned in about 8 segments and then seamed together. That’s a big hassle but worthwhile because I’d have a high resolution image if it sold.

I thought this painting of a collection of Horned Larks deserved a bigger format. Smaller sizes are great for some subjects, but I thought this would have no impact on a smaller scale. It even dies a little when shrunk onto the computer screen. I gave up the idea of scanning the major stages of creating the painting on this one. Sorry, no step-by-step demo this time. It certainly went a lot faster and was fun to work on.

Snow is a challenging surface to capture. I always like seeing the variety of colors that snow can have when it is directly lit by the sun, reflects objects and is filled in by the ambient light all at the same time. This scene was a blast to render in watercolor. My sketches for the painting can be found here and here.

© Matthew Bohan 2015

 

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