When More Is More

“As artists we all start out timid, striving to stay in the line. With time comes an abandon that is hard to come by in the early years, when you are unsure of your own ability.  My new series, ‘Winging It,’ focuses on loosely painted birds, exhibiting the bold confident brushmarks that only come after a lifetime of painting. 

“Life’s Little Treasures” (watercolor, 10 x 19)

“It’s beneficial to work in series because your brain gets thinking in a certain way, and you start seeing different ways to tackle the same old subject. One idea leads to another, and you never know where that train of thought will take you. I paint a lot of different subjects, everything from ballet dancers to kids playing in the rain, and everything in between. But I do stay with a subject until I find myself on rote, or just flat running out of ideas — most of the time revisiting the same subject when new ideas start to flow again. 

“All Puffed up and no Place to Crow” (watercolor, 22 x 30)
“Circling the Wagons” (watercolor, 17 x 23)

“Searching for a new series to paint, I was thinking about what I like to do, and that I think I can do well. I like to use varied (broken) color, by which I mean putting one color next to another like the Impressionists did. For example, rather than just paint a blue dress blue, I can use all sorts of colors and it will still read as a blue dress. I find this to be especially true with blacks, and whites, which got me thinking about birds. 

“Pelican at Sunset” (watercolor, 10 x 26)
“Whooping Cranes” (watercolor, 22 x 21)
Painting Black and White in Watercolor

“Interested especially in things to paint that were either black or white, I started looking at certain species of birds. There are a plethora of both black and white birds. Painting ravens or crows simply started because I love to paint darks in watercolor. I can add so many colors and still have it read as black. I have always had a fascination with crows, and so started a series that has continued off and on for years now, straying from just painting crows, to painting them in a variety of ways. Because they are smart and comical, I started putting them in all sorts of situations. I jokingly say that my imbibing crows sell the best. It just goes to show how one small idea can morph into a whole new vein of opportunity. 

“Fruit Loops” (watercolor, 18 x 11)
“Bloom Where You’re Planted” (watercolor, 13 x 15)

“Blacks can be one of the most interesting areas of a painting, or they can be dead spots, depending on how you do it. The same is true for white. I have found painting birds allows me to explore impressionistic color in all sorts of ways. 

” Extra Olives II” (watercolor, 11 x 22)
“Gourmet Crow Bar” (watercolor, 18 x 30)

“Mostly I paint from photographs as I am a studio painter. Of course this makes life easier, as birds don’t fly away, and you are not always chasing the sun (light). However there are drawbacks too. Photos lose color that you see in nature. A lot of the small nuances are gone. Mostly bird’s eyes look black and lifeless, and shadows often read as hard-edged dark shapes. In photos you lose the subtle colors you see in real life, so if you are going to paint from photos do your research. Really study while out with your camera, and zoom in on the eyes, and any other features you want to accentuate. Have fun, and take flight!”

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  1. Miss you Bev. . . Vicki West in Spokane here. Love this new series. . . and everything you do. It always looks like you’re having FUN!! Hope to see you back here someday!

  2. I love your watercolors – the looseness, bold colors, splashes and lines, the story each one tells, and your humor! Chris said “Inspiring”, I agree. Thank you.

  3. Hi Bev, thanks for sharing your birds with us. As usual, they are brilliant. After you taught the class in Kalispell in 2018, we were asked to do portraits in Karen Leigh’s art class at Flathead Valley Community College. I did a portrait of you from a photo I took in your class. Turned out pretty good. How do I send you a photo of it?

  4. Hi, Noticed the painting of the “Whooping Cranes”. You might want to rename it as the birds are White Storks. Lovely job on the birds.

  5. Dear Bev, your work is inspirational. I have so enjoyed the couple of workshops that I’ve taken with you and often explore using your techniques when working with animals and birds and people. Your work has so much life, and as you’ve said before the eyes are really the spark.


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