Painting the Textures of Feathers, Steel and Mother of Pearl

Someone recently viewed a collection of my watercolor and acrylic work and then asked my aunt, "does she have multiple personalities?" Wow! What a comment! All because I am able to paint a diverse selection of subject matter and use several painting styles and media! 


I'm happy to say I do not have "multiple personalities," even if I have different moods, at times.

I later explained to the questioner, I can cook, dress, AND paint in a variety of different ways, depending on purpose, taste, clientele, etc. 


This topic intrigues me anyway, because the diversity of subject matter I've been asked to paint is very interesting. Galleries often want an artist to have a "look." And I know I've been rejected by show juries for this very issue. But I continue to try to make my paintings FEEL different, to express the specific nature of whatever I'm depicting.



My latest large work is a large 17x21 watercolor, Big Tom. Big Tom is a wild turkey with hens:



As you can see, Turkeys have thousands of little tiny feathers. And then lots of larger feathers. And fluffy feathers. And striped feathers. Feathers that catch the light and turn green and orange - this is called iridescence. Catching these colors and making the turkey look like he is actually stamping his feet and whirring his feathers was my challenge. 


I have photos of each stage - how Big Tom appeared on the paper, hour by hour. Fifty or so hours later, he's looking pretty fine! This painting was commissioned, but prints will be available soon.



As to Steel, my major watercolor work from last summer, "Pentagoet in the Fog" was also a challenge. "You made an ugly boat look pretty" someone complimented me. I used fog to accomplish this. The tugboat in the front of the painting is the focal point.


I'm now offering Limited Edition watercolor prints of this scene, if anyone is interested, in a large 11x17 size and a smaller 6x9 size.


Mother of Pearl

And lastly, I was once asked to paint Mother of Pearl - this Nautilus shell. I remember feeling very daunted by this task. But again, it was just a matter of getting the proper colors and value - then softening the edges of each wash, so each one blends into the other.


I particularly love this illustration, below. I was speaking to someone while I drew it and the dimensions just seemed to appear on the page. It flowed. I like when that happens!

There you have it. Feathers, Steel and Mother of Pearl. All watercolor. By paying close attention to value, color and hard and soft edges you can depict an amazing variety of things!

Blessings from the Coast of Maine, where it has been a wild and blustery nor'easter day!

Your painting-friend,




Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you:

But when the leaves hang trembling,

The wind is passing through. 


Who has seen the wind?

Neither you nor I:

But when the trees bow down their heads,

The wind is passing by.


~ Christina Rossetti

"The wind bloweth where it listeth, 
and thou hearest the sound thereof, 
but canst not tell whence it cometh, 
and whither it goeth: 
so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
~ John 3:8

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