Sunday, May 24, 2009

Acadian Flycatcher Continued

Because we've been on vacation a lot recently we've missed seeing much of the spring migration locally. With that in mind we headed to Carpenter's Woods in Philadelphia this morning.

But it was extremely quiet. About the only surprise, outside of the missing migrating warblers, was one Baltimore Oriole that landed about 6 feet from us very low to the ground. But we also seemed to sit ourselves down on a bench that must have been very near to an Acadian Flycatcher nest. We had one or more Acadian Flycatchers flying around very close to us. That gave me a chance to take another look and notice how much browner the wings of this bird are compared to his back, which is much more olive.

When we returned home I went back to work on the watercolor above and added some olive wash. You can also see that I fiddled quite a bit with the background. In a sketch like this you have the choice to either render the background in detail or to improvise the 'impression' of a background. Since the bird is the foremost concern I, and many other bird artists, often use 'impressionistic' backgrounds. Sometimes they work; sometimes they do not. When they do not it's too late to change course and go back to a detailed background. I'm not completely happy with the background here. But I do think that any more 'fiddling' will just lead to a dead painting.

So unless this watercolor develops an itch that must be scratched it is done.


Pam Johnson Brickell said...

Nicely done! Great light on flycatcher. The bolder background really works. Sometimes when I get my subject matter where I want it, I'm real tentative to mess with the background. Dance with your wife around the kitchen.... you are very good at the waltz:)

Ken Januski said...

Thanks so much Pam. I came downstairs from computer after reading it and told my wife that I was supposed to waltz her around the kitchen. She's still looking at me funny. Though happy enough to be dancing.

I think you have to be an artist to understand the difficulties that we all go through working on art, hoping not to ruin something that has good qualities to it but may still need more work. Do we keep what is good and leave the background as is? Do we risk overworking it in order to make the background better? It's part of the thrill of art, and also what can make it less calming than most people might think.