Early Bird

"Early Bird" 245 x 350 mm.  Coloured pencils and oil pastels on pescia paper. A crested tern in front of The Left Bank Cafe Bar Restaurant at East Fremantle early in the morning.

“Early Bird”
245 x 350 mm. Coloured pencils and oil pastels on pescia paper.
A crested tern in front of The Left Bank Cafe Bar Restaurant at East Fremantle early in the morning.

Two weeks ago I hauled myself out of bed for some early morning photography.  I wondered whether to bother leaving the house as it was a dull cloudy morning; not at all the sort of light I had hoped for.  However, once I was up I thought I might as well go.  On the way to Point Walter (where coastal birds nest and feed) I drove through East Fremantle.  As I passed the jetty I saw that the familiar wooden pier (which you have seen several times in recent drawings) was occupied by a crested tern so I stopped.  It can’t have been even 6 o clock and the light was so dim that the electric lights of The Left Bank Cafe Bar Restaurant were still on.  The crested tern kindly cooperated with me by varying his positions (and not flying away) as I took photos.  I wanted to include the electric lights behind him as they looked quite festive.

The image below is the source photograph (uncropped) for “Early Bird”.   Do you remember a few weeks back I complained about the ugly Fremantle traffic bridge which cuts across the landscape?  Here it is.  No wonder I do my best to exclude it from drawings.

This photo is the source for the drawing EARLY BIRD.

This photo is the source for the drawing EARLY BIRD.

You can see bright electric lights behind the bird.  I had to sacrifice their brightness, dulling them right down and pushing them back so that the tern stands out in the drawing.  If I had kept them as bright as they are in the photo, the tern wouldn’t have had  impact or looked closer to you than the background.  When I am doing a drawing like this I spend a lot of time pushing and pulling colours around.  I pull the main subject closer by adding warm colours while pushing the background away with the use of cool colours.  In other words, I am using colour to trick your eyes into believing there is depth of field.  The final thing I did to this drawing was lift out the colour at the centres of the electric lights with a putty rubber.  I pressed the rubber in quite hard and then lifted it off; most of the colour coming with it.  Then I added a touch of yellow into the colour-vacated spaces.  Before I made this change, the lights were too red.  (See image below.)

The drawing as it had been before I made the decision to take some of the colour out of the electric lights.  They were too red and detracted from the bird.

The drawing as it had been before I made the decision to take some of the colour out of the electric lights. They were too red and detracted from the bird.

You might disagree with my decision to take away the reds.  While they were pretty,  the background seemed too disjointed from the bird on the post…as if I couldn’t make up my mind whether I was being a realist or a naive artist.  Possibly there isn’t a right or wrong and it is just a matter of taste?!  My taste says, ‘Less is more.  Reds must leave.’

As in last week’s Eye Catcher, I used Neocolor I wax pastels and Neopastel oil pastels as well as pencils for the current drawing.  In this drawing I have used more pastels than I did in the last one.  They help me to achieve soft focus in the background and give me a bit of creative freedom too.

Speaking of early birds, I am being an early bird by making my Christmas cards today.  I have been deep in production; cutting and folding card (ouch – sore fingers from so much pressing on card), pasting photos of drawings onto the cards, gluing Christmas messages inside each card, writing names and addresses on envelopes.  All this is happening now because I am going overseas next week.  For this reason, there will be no more posts from me until after Christmas.  I know I will suffer from blog post withdrawal but I will be gathering new material for future posts and future drawings from exotic new locations.

The Christmas card factory at my desk today.

The Christmas card factory at my desk today.

So I wish you, Dear Reader, a very happy festive season.  Merry Christmas.  I will be back to write stories and post photos of exciting adventures and cities in the New Year.   Thank you for being my reader!!!

Return to Contents of Posts page      Related page:  Subject 6: Birds in a landscape

About juliepodstolski

I am a realist artist who works in coloured pencils.
Image | This entry was posted in art, Birds on the waterfront, coloured pencils, photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Early Bird

  1. the drawing is prettier than the picture, it is beautiful !! May I ask, what is pescia paper ? never heard of it !

    • Sure, gwenniesgarden. It is an Italian printmaking paper which comes hot or cold pressed. I use the hot pressed paper. It is made by Magnani who make many different types of art papers. There is an agent here in Australia so it is quite easy to buy. You may like to look on my Art Materials page where I have written more about it.

  2. Steven Abramson says:

    I liked the tern picture when it was pposted. I thought the lights look good since they were not a distraction and just another part of the scene. Have a safe and fun trip and a very nice holiday season.

  3. Ann Kullberg says:

    Love seeing your Christmas card manufacturing center, Julie. I can see that you are very neat, very clean and very organized. I wish I knew how to do all three of those!!! 🙂

    • ha ha – Ann – its in the genes. You’re born with it or you’re not. I’m also an early bird – one of those people who is always early to any sort of appointment. But I married a man who is late!!! Somehow, between us, we are usually on time … but only if I do some nagging.

  4. Anne Mccaughey says:

    Great decision about the red Julie…so obvious when you compare the two….I like the little external ring that has been left of the red, though, looks really good! AND how interesting to se a dull photo which only your sensitive artist’s eyes can transform.

    • Thanks Anne. Sometimes it is thought that if an artist works from a photo he or she is simply copying but there is so much more to it. By showing the original photo, people can see that a drawing is NOT just a laboured over photo but a completely new entity.

  5. Merry Christmas Julie. Enjoy your trip and I look forward to seeing your drawings from it. Karen

  6. I like this one very much Julie – reading your process is so interesting. Knowing how to solve those niggling things that bother you about an image is something that only comes with experience, and is often something I struggle with, knowing there is SOMETHING wrong but not knowing exactly how to resolve it. This image certainly works now! Seeing the photo is interesting too – your drawing is so much more satisfying (not to denigrate your photography skills in any way of course!) By the way, do the oil pastels stand alone, or can you work into them with the pencils?

    • I’m no different to you, Anna. I can tell that SOMETHING is wrong but often don’t know what it is. It is a matter of trial and error. Sometimes it takes a long time after a drawing seems finished before I realise that I hadn’t addressed the real SOMETHING and it still needs addressing.
      Re the photography, it is often like that. Very ordinary. But what I’m putting in is my own experience of being there – the poetry of it; the way I felt. Yes, a photo can’t possibly hold those things; they are within the artist.
      Most definitely the oil pastels can be worked with the pencils – going either under or over or both – plus I can use the blender over the top if I want.

  7. Robyn Varpins says:

    the mundane becomes sacred…..you did it again

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