Monthly Retrospective: May 2023

May is Warbler Month in Massachusetts – the best month of the year for birding because exciting birds are briefly traveling through on their northward migration, singing and carrying on. (There’s also a fall migration, but because it’s shorter and quiet, I rarely see anything.) I was excited about the birds I was seeing and began a new game: I would paint birds, but only those I had recently seen within a day or so. Although I used photo references, I tried to paint them accurate to my experience (in the same type of tree, doing the same type of behavior, and so on). Thus the Bird Collection was born.

I also continued my National Parks project this month, and did a couple of video game inspired landscapes.

Supplies Update: I concluded my experiment with non-toxic paints and returned a couple of cobalt-based paints to my palette: Cerulean Blue and Cobalt Turquoise (Da Vinci versions, both made from PB36). I do think you can get by without any cobalt paints, but absence made the heart grow fonder for those ones. However, the experiment confirmed that Ultramarine Blue pretty much covers my use case for Cobalt Blue; although I like the color, it’s kind of a relief not to be constantly choosing between two very similar paints.

Next Month… My original thought was that I could continue the bird collection by filling in common birds, now that the uncommon ones aren’t moving through, but I’m a bit burned out on bird paintings and may take a break. I’ve been concentrating so hard on “series” that I think it will be fun to do some freestyle for a bit.

Summer has also typically been a time when I focus on skies, and I’m feeling the pull again. I’ve begun a weekly sky challenge, #skieswithjt, run by John Widener (@jthomasart_ on Instagram).

Total Paintings for May: 35

  • 4 gouache
  • 3 plein air
  • 13 National Parks
  • 13 birds

The Paintings

Move back in time to April 2023 or forward in time to June 2023!