Size (Unframed) 23 1/2" x 17 1/2"
Finished February 2002
For this painting, I used some photos of a Blue and Gold Macaw, named "Sinbad", and a Scarlet Macaw (name not known) who reside at the San Diego Zoo. I have painted these two macaws before on porcelain vases. Macaws are one of my favorite birds to paint. The foliage is taken from photos I have taken of the numerous types of plants which grow along Mamalahoa highway here on the Big Island of Hawaii. There is no lack of resources for foliage in this area.
I wanted to have the area behind the Macaws very dark so that they would "pop" out, but I wanted a suggestion of foliage in this background. With many watercolor paints, you can "lift" out the color after it has dried by using a stiff brush that has been wet a little. But I wanted to use Indigo, a "staining" paint for this background. It is one of my favorite watercolors for shadows and very dark areas. It is next to impossible to lift areas out of staining colors. I was able to accomplish the lifting by means of a special product called "lifting preparation". I applied the lifting preparation to the watercolor paper first and let it completely dry. Then painted on the dark color, using Indigo, Alizarin, Hooker's Dark Green and a few other dark colors, just "mottled" together as I painted them on. After this background color had dried completely, because of the earlier application of the lifting preparation, I was able to come back with my lifting brush and wipe out shapes to define muted foliage in the background.
I experimented (on a scrap paper, not on this painting) with the use of the lifting preparation over watercolor paper which had already been painted (with an application of yellow and a little light green). I made sure the paint was completely dry before I put on the lifting preparation. This worked alright, but for this painting I preferred the effect of the unpainted watercolor paper beneath the lifting preparation.