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Bird in an Autumnal Sumac



I haven’t made up my mind about this one. It is in oil. The new Earth Paints are a joy to work with but of course there are ways in which they behave much differently than my acrylics. I think this doesn’t match my desire to paint wild abstract-y interpretations but I really wanted to highlight the gorgeous shades of red of sumac leaves in the fall. Plus, I couldn’t resist the little bird πŸ™‚ Β I’d love to hear what you think!

30 thoughts on “Bird in an Autumnal Sumac

  1. I agree with you on all counts. The rich colors of the sumac are fine, and the bird draws viewers right in, as it did you. When I look back at your two previous posts, I find them to be more “wild abstract-y interpretations.” Do you know what you did differently to create those two? My guessβ€”not being a painter, I have to guessβ€”is that it was more a consequence of mood than of medium (i.e. the new paints).

    1. My guilty secret is, it is all in the photograph. When I use a so-so photo from which to leap, I find it much easier to be creative. Sometimes however my field photos are pretty good, and then I find myself basically copying them in paint. I am trying to break myself of this. So, sometimes I feel the painting is a success, but perhaps a failure at the same time.

      1. Have you ever tried purposely taking a reference photograph out of focus or with camera movement? I wonder if the lack of crisp details might more readily suggest a painting.

      2. After all these years of trying to take the best reference photos I could, it is funny now to think that that is what I’ll have to do but you are right. Mostly I think, just keeping focus on my purpose to extract from a scene what it is I want to express. I’ll get there, I think. If not, I’ll have a great time trying.

  2. I don’t see this as literal or photographic. Your color and value use are light-handed and seem joyful, inspired by the bird, perhaps?

  3. Yes, and also fear! My acrylics are very forgiving when I change my mind, or when I wish to layer color. Oil, however, quickly turns to mud.

  4. White-crowned Sparrow? He looks lovely! They’re just showing up here for Winter.

    1. I thought perhaps that’s what he is, although the beak looked a bit heavy? He posed so nicely for me that day, I felt I had to do his portrait. Thank you, I’m so pleased you like him.

  5. The colours are beautiful, just as sumac turns in autumn. Love the bird too.

  6. Thank you! I was lucky to get this shot.

  7. I think this is wonderful, Melissa. πŸ™‚ The colours are bright and rich, the bird the centre of attention attracts the eye, for it to move onto those glorious reds, and then the light and texture of those beautiful background greens.

    1. You are so kind, Pete. You describe the path of your eye exactly how I hoped it would go πŸ™‚

      1. Credit where its due, you are a wonderful artist πŸ™‚

  8. At first glance I thought this was a watercolor until I looked more closely. I really like your loose use of paint.

  9. Thank you! It does have a watercolor look to it doesn’t it?

  10. Not that I am any art expert, but my thought was to darken the area behind the bird to provide greater contrast so that it stands out more. I like it!

    1. I considered that, Eliza. It is a good thought but in the end I decided by not doing that the overall composition would be stronger. Thank you!

  11. There’s a sense of light and clarity to this that seems new to me. The colors are beautiful, and the bird’s feet are especially well-done, but the detail I keep coming back to is the limb it’s perched on, and the trunks behind. They’re beautifully rendered, and solid. The leaves will fall and the bird fly, but the trunks will remain — until the leaves and birds return.

  12. You always have such a lovely way of putting things, and you make me feel you’ve really seen my painting. I appreciate your words so much. Thank you!

  13. Feeling a bit frazzled, it’s been that busy here, but thanks for this lovely break into another of your very soothing paintings. Wish I could put into words why your work draws me in so very pleasantly.

  14. I’m so glad my little bird provided you with a soothing break, Gunta! Hope the frazzling eases up soon!

  15. I thought the oils brought out the lovely reds very well, Melissa. I find oils harder than acrylics to use also (well, I did many moons ago when I painted.) They do feel messier don’t they? The colours in this reminded me of the bright red shoots of some of our eucalypts. It’s a very joyful pic in my eyes. Bright and happy. πŸ™‚

  16. Haha, yeah, the oils are messy for sure:) They do bring out luscious jewel-tones though.

  17. Gorgeous! I love the colours of both the sumac and the sparrow. It really feels like birdwatching on a cool and sunny autumn in the late afternoon. I missed that this year. But your painting reminded me of last year. I think the “medium sharpness” of your strokes captures the effect of the cool-warm light. πŸ™‚

  18. Thanks Myriam! High praise from such a talented birder. It sounds like it has been a blah season everywhere color-wise this year. We are getting some blazing sumacs but otherwise not so much.

  19. Oh, I didn’t realize a lot of places got blah colours this fall. I didn’t get to bird-watch much but I did walk to school quite a lot. Luckily, here, the fall was much drier and sunnier than this summer. The poplars turned bright butter yellow in early September. Later in the fall, I noticed the cotoneaster edges (Have you seen them turn? Such a wonderful variety of intense colours!) and the snowy mountain ash. I don’t recall any sumacs. They were more common in Vancouver.

  20. I’ve been meaning to plant some contoneasters for years but haven’t yet. For some reason I get resistance from my house mates. I love how they drape over walls. Plus, isn’t it a fun name to say? πŸ™‚ I’m glad you got good color where you are. Our’s took awhile but did arrive and I have some glorious photos to work from.

    1. Yay for glorious colours and photos! 😊

  21. Right?! I am just feasting on both this fall πŸ™‚

  22. I like the way there’s a lot of texture in some places and less in others…and the bird is full of spunk and curiosity.

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