Saturday, July 11, 2009
Near Temptation of Lens
I've spent the last week thoroughly immersed in the wildlife artist forum of birdforum.com. I was led there by Jo through a reference to the work of Nick Derry in my last post. What an enjoyable trip it's been. There are some really, really good bird artists there. More important, at least to me, is that not only is it good but much of it is based on field work. It's both observation-based and artful.
To make a long story short the time spent there has convinced me that I really do need to spend more time working from life. There is just no way around it. Fieldwork is what keeps you connected to the subject. So today I forced myself to work from life. Today I stayed in the backyard. Tomorrow I may go afield, if I can convince my wife that she'd also enjoy it.
I knew that we have had a hummingbird around quite a bit the last two weeks so I wanted to see if I could get some sketches of it. And I knew I needed to avoid 'the near temptation of lens.' No photos. I wanted to draw what I saw with my naked eye, or through binoculars, unadulterated by a camera.
As you can see I managed a few very small hummingbird sketches. It just didn't sit still. The one time it looked like it might (see bird on wire) a robin landed on tomato cage and scared it away. That sketch is really from a mental image. Even the robin wouldn't sit still. So his sketch includes two composite views.
Unidentified wasps and beetles landed on my drawing table or on the honeysuckle next to my chair. So they also got included. I've spent years drawing insects under a microscope but this was one of the first drawing them live. Wasps don't sit much more still than birds. I haven't identified this one but if I have time I'll do so later. Actually I think I have identified it. It's one of the thread-waisted wasps: a mud-daubing wasp.
The final subjects are floral: a helenium just budding up, a half-spent monarda and a honeysuckle blossom. The hummingbirds love the monarda and the honeysuckle. As common as monarda is it is really a spectacular flower. I don't think most orchids can top it for exotic beauty, especially if you look closely at each flower.
There aren't any great drawings here. But it was great fun forcing myself to work from life. I enjoyed it so much I didn't even notice I was using my old nemesis, watercolor pencils and waterbrush.