For me, the fun begins when I find a funky, sturdy, functional piece of wooden furniture. My aim is to turn something boring into a useable piece of original art. Here, I’ve taken a vintage, round library table and given its surface a priming with at least 3 coats of Daniel Smith Watercolor ground, letting it cure for several months. In that time I get to decide what I want to cover that surface with. We’re pretty bird obsessed on this farm so naturally I thought this was a good opportunity to render some of my favorites, all birds who are frequent visitors to the farm or the immediate area. Rough sketches in graphite and very thin watercolor allow me to figure out placement and composition, followed by blocked in areas of color. The thing I love most about working on the grounded surface is how easy it is to smudge away even dried areas of paint, allowing me to change things up when I want.

For me, the fun begins when I find a funky, sturdy, functional piece of wooden furniture. My aim is to turn something boring into a useable piece of original art. Here, I’ve taken a vintage, round library table and given its surface a priming with at least 3 coats of Daniel Smith Watercolor ground, letting it cure for several months. In that time I get to decide what I want to cover that surface with. We’re pretty bird obsessed on this farm so naturally I thought this was a good opportunity to render some of my favorites, all birds who are frequent visitors to the farm or the immediate area. Rough sketches in graphite and very thin watercolor allow me to figure out placement and composition, followed by blocked in areas of color. The thing I love most about working on the grounded surface is how easy it is to smudge away even dried areas of paint, allowing me to change things up when I want.

Things starting to progress, more color, more detail. At these early stages, I’m working primarily in transparent watercolor. When I feel that I’ve done all I can in that medium, I’ll start working in details in gouache. The differences in the two are astounding, with watercolor more easily blended, much easier to flood areas with, transparent in nature, etc. Gouache is opaque and tends to sit on the surface and, more importantly, allows the application of light colors over dark, something that can’t be achieved with watercolor. I love how the two complement each other and how they work so well together.

Things starting to progress, more color, more detail. At these early stages, I’m working primarily in transparent watercolor. When I feel that I’ve done all I can in that medium, I’ll start working in details in gouache. The differences in the two are astounding, with watercolor more easily blended, much easier to flood areas with, transparent in nature, etc. Gouache is opaque and tends to sit on the surface and, more importantly, allows the application of light colors over dark, something that can’t be achieved with watercolor. I love how the two complement each other and how they work so well together.

It’s getting there. Still using mostly watercolor at this point.

It’s getting there. Still using mostly watercolor at this point.

Mostly finished. Lighter gouache details have been added. Just some tidying up, mostly of the background, is needed now.

Mostly finished. Lighter gouache details have been added. Just some tidying up, mostly of the background, is needed now.

After several coats of Golden satin spray varnish, its surface protected against coffee cups and grandchildren, it’s finished. Who doesn’t love the judgmental scrutiny of a great horned owl first thing in the morning?

After several coats of Golden satin spray varnish, its surface protected against coffee cups and grandchildren, it’s finished. Who doesn’t love the judgmental scrutiny of a great horned owl first thing in the morning?

Here it is, in its permanent home!

Here it is, in its permanent home!

Great Horned Owl, in detail.

Great Horned Owl, in detail.

Eastern Phoebe, Baltimore Oriole, American Bittern, Tufted Titmouse.

Eastern Phoebe, Baltimore Oriole, American Bittern, Tufted Titmouse.

American Kestrel (my favorite!), Yellow Warbler.

American Kestrel (my favorite!), Yellow Warbler.

Eastern Bluebird pair. Since erecting many bluebird nest boxes on the farm we’ve seen a drastic increase in these beauties and we feel so lucky that they’ve made our yard and farm their homes!

Eastern Bluebird pair. Since erecting many bluebird nest boxes on the farm we’ve seen a drastic increase in these beauties and we feel so lucky that they’ve made our yard and farm their homes!

Eastern Chickadee, northern Cardinal female, male.

Eastern Chickadee, northern Cardinal female, male.

Red Winged Blackbird, Barred Owl (“Who cooks for you?”)

Red Winged Blackbird, Barred Owl (“Who cooks for you?”)