Arlene Powers Bird Art and Discussion Site

Archive for September, 2011

Birdie Wip……Almost Done!

Arleenie Beenie decided to show up today to help with the background for the Birdie painting. Thought you would like to see our guest painter, so snapped a little photo for you. Now as I have said before, the Beenie gets kind of carried away with painting and gets a LITTLE messy, so I hope you have all remembered to bring rain ponchos, plastic, or umbrellas. Due to the unorthodox painting style the Beenie uses, I have taken the time to mask the edges of Birdie, and cut a piece of paper to put over the painted area for protection.

 Once this has been accomplished, I let the Beenie take over. I will sit in the peanut gallery with you guys and try to describe the process. First Arleenie Beenie uses the big brush you see pictured, and TOTALLY covers the paper with plain water. Then, she starts splashing paint (blue and red, I believe) onto the paper. OK, she is now heading towards the peanut gallery. It looks like the people in the front row are pretty much covered with purple paint splotches. Meanwhile, the painting is just starting to dry, she takes a spray bottle filled with water, and sprays up into the air over the painting. Oops, the front row just got sprayed with the spray bottle. Oh, no, it looks like the folks in the second row got it too. ER, excuse me while I move to the back of the room…….she is going crazy with the spray bottle. Whoever brought the popcorn today forgot to cover it. I hope the spray doesn’t make it back here! Well, guess I had better stop her before a paint fight breaks out! BEENIE!!!! That is enough for now!!!!! Thanks for the help, I have it under control, you can go back to the farm until we need you again! Say “Hi” to all the Beenie family. Yes, give Uncle Admiral Navy Beenie a Big hug! Of course give hugs to all the cousins! (String Beenie, Green Beenie, Kidney Beenie, Jelly Beenie, and Chili Beenie[he is such a GAS]) Ok, we will see you again soon! Phew! Ok, well, here it is. 

We never know if the paintings will survive the Beenie treatment, so one more survives and now just needs some minor adjustments to be ready to sign. The good news for those of you now sporting purple splotched hair, is that we did not use staining paint, so that watercolor should wash right out………uh what………Oh……ummmmmmm…..sorry……….. well I guess the red is a stainer…..uh, Ok, er um, the good news is that the blue is not a staining color, so you will only have red splotches in your hair. Uh what did you say??? You didn’t want red splotches in your hair. It will go away in a few weeks, er um months…………Maybe Ripley is ready for human clients.



Break for Station Identification……

Great news, there have been some positive steps in the negotiations with Birdie. His pay has been expanded to include more pistachios, and he does NOT have to eat all of his broccoli. SO for now a strike has been averted and we will move forward with the WIP as soon as Arleenie Beenie can make an appearance to help finish the background. The parrot union has approved the new contract, so hopefully we will not have any problems with this issue when the Tinkerbelle the parrotlet WIP is conducted.

In further breaking news…..

Candy is still covered in bandages, so our location on Tuesday is still in doubt. Candy remains positive saying, and I quote,” At least I will have a Halloween costume.” But she does reiterate – No Gum allowed at the Tuesday With Candy Blog.

Speaking of cats, this announcer, would like to bring up a subject, which has long been hidden by cat owners. At least by long haired cat owners. What is up with cats tracking litter all over the house. Dante, the Tuxedo Kitty is a long haired cat, with the cutest little tufts of fur on his paws, but he insists on dragging cat litter with him everywhere he goes. We put a floor mat next to the cat box, and he ABSOLUTELY refuses to wipe his paws every time he leaves the box. Needless to say, guess who jumps into our bed after we are asleep at night. Hubby sleeps (snores) all night and I wake up in the middle of the night laying on annoying little grains of cat litter. Since having this cat, I have developed a GREAT sympathy for the Princess in the “Princess and the Pea” story. If there is one grain of litter in the bed, it is always where it will produce the maximum discomfort. You have to give it up for short haired cats, they do not trail cat litter everywhere. Needless to say, the parrots in the house have no sympathy. They just laugh.

Good night for now and see you all back at the WIP tomorrow…….


WIP – Birdie Cont……….

Good afternoon, at least it is here, don’t know about you. Before I post the photo of today’s progress, just thought I would give you an update on Missy…….After a long soak in a bubble bath, the gum still would not come out of Missy’s fur. Candy sounded a little worse for the wear….apparently cats don’t like to take a long soak in a bubble bath, so Candy is covered in bandages. WELLLLL, guess there is nothing else to do but to shave poor Missy…..will get back with you when that is done……sooooooooo whether not we are allowed back at Candy’s next week will probably depend on whether or not Candy is still covered in Band-aids, so whoever gave the gum to Missy – NO More GUM chewing allowed. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Now back to the WIP, as you can see the head is coming along pretty well.  Just a few more washes will be required at this point, and it is time (Oh NOOOOO!) to call in Arleenie Beenie (my clown persona) to do the background. It would be better to just get this over with, so after the background is dry I will be able to see what adjustments are needed. BUT, if you have never been through a WIP with me, you probably don’t know what a disaster….oops I mean a treat you are in for. Suffice to say, it gets a LITTLE messy so  this would be the time to bring your protective gear.

Since Thursday is My volunteer day at Liberty Wildlife, I may not have the energy or fortitude to deal with the clown until Friday, so don’t be surprised if the update is not done until Friday.

In the meantime, there may be a delay on the WIP, as Birdie is in talks with his lawyer, Ripley the African Grey. It seems he is tired of working for birdseed and peanuts, and is in negotiations for a better paying contract. I don’t know if a strike is eminent or not, so stay tuned……..Don’t worry folks, if things are not settled, I have plenty of other birds who will model. If the situation gets desperate, there are always Raptors to work with. As long as the parrots and corvids don’t get to them, they work really cheap.

WIP – Tuesdays with Candy

SO today we pick up the paper, paint, brushes and go to Candy’s house. Yup, it is a date,every week on Tuesday, we go to Candy’s house to paint. You didn’t know that  painting is such a social activity, did you? Taken any classes lately – it is a highly social event this painting activity!

We will miss the sounds of the zoo, but NOT to worry, we will still have cat hair. Now while visiting my studio, you will notice black and white long hair from our Tuxedo Kitty, along with short red hair from out Rusty Cat. At Candy’s house, Missy, the resident feline, provides a variety of colors of medium hair. Once again , if scientists could harness the sticking, floating, ubiquitous properties of cat hair, just think of the advances in technology! It boggles the imagination.

Meanwhile, back at the WIP, I have continued with the negative painting up near the eyes, then, Taaaa Daaaaa, we finally get to do some positive painting. The beak and top of head provide plenty of opportunities for positive painting, and we are getting close to dessert! Yes, I love to save the eyes for as long as possible, since they are my favorite part to paint, and if they are not right the whole painting goes out the window!  Let me exercise my psychic powers here and venture to guess that you are thinking, “What a dope! If the eyes are wrong and the painting gets tossed, she did so much work, why not do the eyes first.” Well, you are right. But just look at all of the practice I got while working on rest of the painting, and look at the pressure it puts on me to get the eyes right. And it did give you time to make some popcorn, have a couple of food fights, and make fun of me, so we all win! OK, guys, let’s pack up and head back to my studio. Bye Candy, see ya next week.  What? It wasn’t me, I was painting. WHO spilled the red Koolaid all over the floor. ARGH! Who gave Missy chewing gum? NO, I did not bring purple taffy. Yes, they follow me everywhere while I am blogging, I can NOT be held responsible for their mess. You don’t want us to come back next Tuesday?!?!?!!??!





WIP, Continuing On

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….I mean Blog……as you can see, the WIP is continuing. Same ole, same ole, more negative painting, more washes on the feathers.  See,  I told you this would get boring, and of course, since we took a break, no one remembered to bring snacks and drinks. Don’t look at me, all I have is bird seed and nuts.  You really didn’t expect me to paint and provide snacks for you did you? No you cannot have Loki’s pistachios, we need them for clicker training, no you can’t have the bird’s almonds and walnuts, Charlie might decide that we don’t need visitors and take a little nip at you. Since my family has nicknamed him “Hannibal the Cannibal”, he takes particular pride in being the “Guard Bird” of the flock. Now the birds might be willing to share their pellets, oh you think you will pass….OK. Well, take a look in the fridge and see if there is anything there, but I think you will be out of luck. It is filled with pellets, seed and nuts, and what human food was in there has probably been consumed by my perpetually hungry son. What it is it with sons? They are as skinny as rails consume 300 million calories a day and never gain weight! I gain lbs just watching him eat. Oh yes, there is some cat food, can’t forget about the feline members of the family!

You think it sounds like a zoo here, well it is a little noisier than usual, we have a guest with us until Tuesday. Meet Ripley, the African Grey. The “meowing” you hear along with all of the sound effects are coming from his cage. Yes, I know Rip, Mikey likes it! Yes you are a good boy, oops is that the dryer, or Ripley, is that the real microwave, or is it Ripley again? At least I am getting my exercise going around rechecking the appliances. Oh yeah, the microwave is off. The dryer is on though, so better check on it. See ya for the next installation of “Birdie’s WIP”!

WIP – Break

Yes, I did paint today, but I have not photographed it yet, so thought I would  elaborate a little on negative painting.

In any type of art negative space is important, however, in Watercolor negative painting is one of THE most important techniques. Combined with another technique, Hard Edge/Soft Edge, watercolor pieces emerge which POP the positive spaces resulting in a more beautiful, dramatic work. SO what is negative drawing or painting, you might ask…… This is a very simple act of drawing or painting around the object and forming the space without actually drawing or painting in the object. SO when I paint a bird, I consider each feather as the object I am painting, and paint around it to form it. Now if you have observed feathers actually on a bird, you will notice there is a little crevice shadow under each feather. So the technique hard edge/soft edge, helps render this shadow during the negative painting process. What is hard edge/soft edge you ask? You are such a good audience. (so unlike the rowdy mob at the back of the room having another food fight!) Hard edge/soft edge is done by having two brushes ready, one filled with paint, and one filled with water. After putting the paint down, you run the wet brush along one edge of the paint, leaving a hard edge on one side, and a soft edge on the other. The soft edge blends into the paper, avoiding leaving a hard line. So Viola! Watercolor in a nutshell!

Before taking watercolor classes, like most people, I only paid attention to the positive spaces in my life. I didn’t realize that I could paint the negative spaces any way I like, which helps POP the positive spaces, making them more important and beautiful. Hope this makes you look at the negative spaces in your life and decide how to paint them!

First WIP…..still continued

Now for a word from our sponsors…….oops, ya caught me watching TV, but not to worry, even after a full morning of volunteering at Liberty Wildlife I managed to get some work done on Birdie. Well, Ok, not on Birdie, but on the painting of Birdie. SO where were we, Oh yes, after finishing some negative painting to form the feathers, I have gone back in with positive painting and filled in some edge color and a few washes over the feathers. This part of the painting is all done wet on dry, which just means I painted on dry paper. When we get to the wet on wet, it gets really messy, so I will remind you in advance to bring umbrellas, raincoats, or some kind of protection for your clothing.

Some more random bird trivia, did you know that some birds have crop milk? Doves, Pigeons, Flamingos and Emperor Penguins all produce crop milk for their chicks. Of course it is not like mammal milk since birds are lactose intolerant.

Let’s see, we should deal with the mail before going much further. Thank you Dina for the nice comments……. I won’t tell anyone you are my cousin, or that I paid you to comment. Thank you Candy for the encouraging words………. I won’t tell anyone you are my cousin, or that I paid you to comment. Debi, what do you mean you did not throw popcorn at me, Oh, right, you would never waste good food by throwing it at me. Then what was that you threw….spit balls….. aaaaaaaarrrrgh… EEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW. That is worse than being kissed by your sister, germs!!!! Ugh!!!! I paid you to say nice things, Oh……yeah, I didn’t pay you because you are my sister. What do you mean I paid my cousins so I should pay you to make nice comments? Birdie…..I am not going to pay you for modeling for me…….what do you mean I paid Charlie and Sunny to model….I did not, they work for peanuts!

First WIP Continued

OK, we are baaaaack! Just don’t tell hubby how much stuff I brought home from the art store. (We will just keep that between us bloggers!)  Does the phrase “art supply junkie” run through your head?? SO since this is going to be a watercolor, first I draw Birdie on tracing paper. Now the question going through your mind is “WHY tracing paper?” The next question is probably “How do you get him to hold still while you draw?” The reason for tracing paper is that occasionally I mess up, LOL, you read it first right here folks, I have to use an eraser and it really messes with the nap of the watercolor paper, so I do all of the messing up on tracing paper where it doesn’t interfere with the actual artwork. SO the paper is a little folded, sorry, forgot to take the photo before I folded it up to put away:

Now as far as getting Birdie to hold still, I have tried several techniques, glue, staples, velcro, but most of them are too messy and the bird still does not hold still, so I reverted to taking photos. Bet ya didn’t see THAT coming.

SO after drawing the bird on the tracing paper making sure it is PERFECT, I use graphite transfer paper and draw the image onto the watercolor paper.

Depending on the subject, at this point I have to decide whether to do the subject or the background. In this case we will go for subject being the good English students that we are.

Once that decision is made,  the next decision is “Where do I start?” Good question. With Birdie, seeing that there is going to be a lot of “negative painting” to do, it will be easier to start at the bottom and work up.

      SO here you see that the base painting on Birdies tail has been done and  as the painting progresses, many washes may be added to show shadows and add balance. Painting is a continual juggling act. WOW, it is really a good thing that juggling is a required clown skill……..wait, I wasn’t so good at juggling as a clown……hmmmmmm well  Ok, maybe we should say it is a balancing act……ummmm, not so good at that either. Well, I am certain that some clown skill has helped with the painting, just not quite sure which one. BTW, can you guys in the back keep it down a little, I can’t hear myself painting. Hey who let Debi and Dina sit next to each other…….SECURITY!!!!

Now that we have that situation taken care of …….back to painting. Just would like to point out a little piece of bird trivia here. Notice that there are TWO toes in front. Parrots are zygodactyl, no that is not some kind of dinosaur, it is a fancy word that means that two toes point forward and two toes point backward. Most people think of birds as anisodactyl (three toes forward and one toe back) and though it is the most common toe configuration, there are several toe configurations and if you want to be a good ornithologist, you should learn them. If you are going to be a good artist, you do not have to know them, but you should learn to observe carefully. The brain will make up things if you are not careful enough to observe. BTW, woodpeckers, owls, cuckoos, osprey, most parrots and a few other birds have this toe configuration. If you are ever on Jeopardy and miss this question, I will know you were sitting in the back having a food fight instead of paying                                                                                   attention.

This is a photo of the negative painting which will start the feather work on the Birdie’s body.

OK guys, the snoring is getting a little loud………who came up with the idea of putting two chairs together for a bed….NO I AM NOT GOING TO BRING BLANKETS NEXT TIME……………Birdie, quit chewing on the paint brush ……………….. ……………………Hey who threw that popcorn at me???? Melissa can you please get your Aunt Debi under control. No Charlie, I already did your painting, it is too late to do a WIP………..Yes Sunny you can have a nut……Loki, please talk softer, the screaming is driving us nuts!

Whose idea was it for me to do another WIP, I thought after the catastrophe at the Art Papa Forums we would never be allowed online again. No Beenie it is not time to do the background yet. Jon did you take the trash out yet. Oh Hi Mom, Oh nothing just writing my blog. No nothing new here.



First WIP on the Blog

The new painting is of Birdie the Green Cheeked Conure. Before I start this WIP or Work in Progress, just thought I should go over a few rules:

  1. A WIP can be a long ongoing process, so to keep from getting bored, please feel free to comment on the process, and be sure to bring plenty of snacks and drinks.
  2. If you decide to start food fights, please do not throw the aforementioned items at the art work.
  3. When Arleenie Beenie enters to finish the background, umbrellas, rain coats and plastic covers are advised, as it gets a LITTLE bit messy when the Beenie starts throwing paint around.
  4. The artist is not to be held responsible or liable for any damage to clothes …….. you were warned in advance.
  5. No whining unless you bring plenty of cheese and crackers.
  6. No tomatoes or ROTTEN fruit allowed, if could accidentally get on to the artwork.
  7. If you have a seat in the front row, please be considerate of short people and let them see what is going on.
  8. Debi and Dina are not allowed to sit next to each other, especially during food fights.
  9. DO NOT leave children behind after the demo, they will be fed sugar, given puppies and sent home.

OK, that should pretty much cover everything, if I forgot anything, we will bring it up later.

The first step is to find a subject……since I was never good at English, that is one of the most difficult steps. Once you find the subject, it is time to look for the verb…..wait this isn’t English, it is art.  Oh, yeah…… Ok, well…..Since this is my first WIP on the Blog, Birdie has graciously volunteered to be my victim, uh, ah, oh…..I mean volunteer.

SO now we have a blank piece of paper in front of us, and it is my job to get Birdie on the paper. Uh, ummmm….BIRDIE, that is NOT newspaper………..excuse me while I get another piece of paper.

That was my last clean sheet of paper, so let’s take an art store break, THEN I will continue this WIP.

Do Birds have a sense of humor?

As an artist, many of my works have been donated to organizations who support bird and wildlife conservation, rehabilitation, education, preservation and research, especially for endangered species. Many of these organizations study bird behavior, but with an emphasis on scientific studies. For example, Irene Pepperberg at the Alex Foundation has spent her career proving to the scientific world what Parrot owners know – that birds are intelligent and cognizant. Studies are being done on bird behavior, diet, procreation, and even on how their wings get their colors……..however as a parrot owner I am interested in exploring my birds sense of humor. Hopefully some day science will prove that birds have a sense of humor. But…….. anyone who works with ravens, crows or parrots already know the answer to this question, it just remains to be proven scientifically.
Not being a scientist though, just an eclectic artist/ bird lover I would like to put it on the record – they DEFINITELY do have a sense of humor.
Looking back through Indian Lore, you will find that brother Raven is well known for his sense of humor, European folklore has ravens and crows pop up with a definite sense of humor many times with a cruel streak, and parrot owner can cite anecdote after anecdote proving their birds play tricks on each other and humans, and laugh about them.
So adding another one to the pile, even though it is not scientific, I observed this incident myself, and leave you to judge for yourself.

So it does sound kind of like a zoo around here with two macaws, two conures and a parrotlet, however on the day in question, Sunny was screaming more and louder than usual. Then I head the Hahn’s Macaw, Charlie laughing. It is not unusual to hear Charlie or Loki(Blue and Gold Macaw) laughing. However, Sunny’s raucous screaming, stopped, then started again, followed by Charlie’s laugh. This managed to break my preoccupation, so I decided to sneak a peek in the other room to see what was going on.
Sunny was quiet and was on the opposite side of the bird perch from Charlie, so I almost walked away, then it happened…….Charlie went to Sunny’s side of the perch and pecked Sunny’s foot. Sunny started screaming at Charlie, who ran to the other side of the perch, laughing all the way. I stood there with my jaw dropped to the floor, absolutely stunned, and it happened again. By this time laughter started to explode out of my mouth, and Charlie did his little trick again making the mad dash to the other side of the perch laughing all the way. Feeling sorry for Sunny, I took her off the perch and let her stay on my shoulder, however, I still smile thinking of Charlie teasing Sunny just like a little brother.
The parrots all must be laughing at me…….I get up every day and make them a yummy breakfast, clean after them, am a walking talking jungle gym for them, and feed them a nice yummy snack before bed time, go through an elaborate ritual every night putting them to bed, WHO are the smart ones here????????

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