So. Here's the finished hummingbird piece:
Here I've laid in a light base layer for each feather, and have started going down from the violet bib. Painting iridescence is something I'm still working on, but strong value changes are important. I've also started darkening the shadows on the bib.
More of the same, an hour later:
And...another hour and a half. Almost all the feathers laid in.
Working on the flower stem and the wings (another hour and a half of work):
In the meantime, I started a watercolor piece. This time on a piece of cradled Aquaboard I found in my closet (so glad those things come plastic-wrapped). One big experiment for me: a support I don't use very often, a subject I don't paint very often, painted at a size several times larger than the real thing. Plus iridescent feathers. Ugh.
After drawing the bird on the 16 by 20" board, I started laying in the background. Lots of granulating colors, aiming for cools on the bottom and warms on top.
Lay in the base local colors on the bird, and decided the background texture just wasn't doing it for me. Now, Aquaboard is supposed to be excellent for lifting, but the idea of doing it all with a brush was exhausting. Experiment time! I wet the background with water, put on a rubber glove, and used a clean sponge to wipe off the pigment. This was the result:
I decided I really liked the soft edges on the back and wings, so they got to stay. Then I lay in the feather pattern, but...
At this point, I hated it. A lot. But I persevered, and started adding shadows and color shifts to the feathers, and...
I still hated it. The sponge stepped up to the plate once again, leaving the head, which I was mostly-content with.
Here you can see where I've started laying in feathers again. Next update, feathers, and more feathers, and more feathers...
It's hard to tell, but this is two and a half hours later. I've started tightening things up: adjusting details, colors, and values.
Another two and a half hours of fine-tuning work:
Two and a half hours later. Detail work on the bird, particularly the back and belly/flank feathers. Painting the fine barring on the sides was like staring at an optical illusion for an hour.
Detail shot of the bird at this point:
Another hour and a half of work. Some glazes on the bird, but mostly working on water again.
Smoothing out the water, refining it a little:
Basic local colors of the bird:
Head detail and some water reflections:
More work on the head:
See that little patch of darkness in the water by its breast? That's two hours of work right there. Two. Hours. Painting water reflections.
Another two hours of work. Again, mostly working on water, and building a little depth on the head.