Here are the four completed bird mixed media paintings, along with my comments about the success, or otherwise, of each.
I think this one, the wren, is the most successful of the four. The warmth of the bird contrasts with the cool of the background and comes forward visually. Although the background is cool overall, there is also noticeable warmth in it. The sculptural element stands out well against the background. The pose of the bird is interesting, and has a relationship to the sculptural element.
This one, the nuthatch, is less successful, but still pretty good. Because both the bird and the background are cool, the bird doesn’t stand out enough. But the sculptural element is large and has a lot of warmth in it, so at least the warms and cools are somewhat balanced. The pose of the bird is interesting, and the strong graphics in the collaged papers behind him help define him as the focal point. I could have, and should have, done a lot better in painting his eye. I’m not sure I like the peach color of the scrolling, but it needed to be warm. Perhaps metallic gold would have been better.
I don’t feel that this one, the tufted titmouse, is particularly successful, but I really like this sculptural element. There is contrast between the warm background and the cool bird. But there is very little contrast between the warm background and the color of the structural element. I dry-brushed light peach over part of it to bring it out a bit and that helped somewhat, but not enough.
I would classify this poor little wren as a complete failure. The bird is warm on a warm background so there’s no contrast. The structural element vanishes into the rest of the background. And, worst of all, there was so much texture over this whole piece that the painting was impossible.
So, lessons learned? Primarily to pay more attention to contrast between the main elements, and in a way that the focal element comes forward. But also – very important – lay off the texture where I’m planning to paint detail. Which means a bit – but not too much – planning. The lack of planning is what makes painting this way fun. But a total lack of planning can clearly lead to trouble!