Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wood Warblers End the Year

I had thought that I might move on to sparrows after rinishing my duck sketches and paintings. But we haven't seen much of anything other than House Sparrows and I don't really have too many sparrow photos.

I do have a lot of wood warbler photos though, especially the friendly Canada Warblers that we see at Shenandoah National Park each spring. So it seemed appropriate to end the year and the beginning of the sparse gray season of winter with the jewel-like warblers.

This drawing doesn't show any color since it's in pencil. Even if I did it in color you wouldn't see much since the bright yellow is on the underside and face. It contrasts with the blue-gray of the birds upper side. But I hope to do other drawings that show the underside and more of the face. Eventually I hope to do some watercolors.

This drawing gets much more involved with individual feathers than I'm comfortable with. But I hope that by drawing them I'll learn more about them and eventually be able to do a shorthand version of them. Some people take pleasure in rendering each feather or feather tract. I don't, at lesat not all that much. But sometimes you really need to understand the structure of a bird before you can portray it faithfully in a more abbreviated manner.

I was looking at Eric Ennion's 'The Living Birds of Eric Ennion' this morning. In it he showed some studies of a dead bird. The accompanying quote said that the artist needed to take every opportunity to study dead birds if he wants to accurately portray live ones. I think he meant by this that you can see structural details that you otherwise couldn't. Sometimes photos offer the same opportunity, perhaps like learning multiplication tables. It's a bit like rote learning. But that learning should help you to portray live birds in all their dynamic glory.

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