This 5×7 practice piece was to work out value and colour choices. These plovers were waiting patiently near the Kingsport Wharf, for the tide to recede, so they could resume feeding. The reference image I took is fairly dull and out of focus but there was the potential for high contrast. The challenge was to bring the picture to life while preserving the highlights/contrast.
Along the way I made some classic faux pas: dry brushed the water a second time while the paper was damp, used too much pigment for the rocks which I turned into a yellow glow. Sunrise? Sure, why not. I masked the birds initially then used a burnt sienna and ultramarine mix to give me grey… then realized they are actually a soft brown. The dark rocks are a mix of indigo and raw sienna but still need some lifting of highlights near the top edge.
I redid the birds with white gouache then went in too quickly with the brown. The gouache was still wet and the muddy results show. The bird front and center comes closest to the colour it needed to be. And, the shading worked best on the one in front of that.
I didn’t bother detailing the edges of the rocks too much after all was said and done. I’ve already started redoing it with a lighter touch and values, hoping to have more success with the technical aspects.