Sunday, February 21, 2010

Great-crested Morning

Though I did these sketches of a Great-crested Flycatcher late yesterday afternoon they seem more appropriate for a bright morning as it is right now in Philadelphia. We often see them, as we did this bird, in the early morning at Shenandoah National Park in spring. Their pale lemon breast is an early-morning color, like sun filtered through early morning fog and mist.

All in all I think their colors may be the most elegant of all the birds in eastern America, or at least the Northeast. There is the pale lemon yellow breast, the steel blue face, the brownish back and wings and then, to cap it off, the mahogany-cinammon tail. A masterpiece of understated coloristic elegance.

And one day they'll appear again. Both morning and late afternoon light seem stronger, like spring is actually on its way.

Though I love this flycatcher I've never painted or drawn one. The main reason is that I've just never been able to see enough details in my photos and I don't want a vague generalization. So yesterday I decided to at least make drawings from the photos I had. This bird sat outside our cabin in Shenandoah last spring, just long enough for me to get some photos. My thought was that if I drew at least what I had that eventually I'd get a better idea of the structure of this bird, then maybe use that as the basis for a painting or maybe charcoal drawing.

It hasn't just yet. But it might. I enjoyed drawing the various postures of this beautiful bird. I rarely draw a bird just to draw a bird. Most often there's something of the bird that I want to capture in paint, charcoal, pencil or pastel. I've always wanted to capture the colors of the Great-crested Flycatcher. Now I have some interesting postures as well. Those two may just be the needed impetus.

Well I guess that they were an impetus. After I posted this I decided to do some watercolor studies to see if they might form the basis of a painting or pastel. The watercolor at the top is the first study.


Gabrielle said...

You really nailed the strong morning light in your watercolor study. Nice work! G.C. Flycatchers are lovely birds.

Ken Januski said...

Thanks Gabrielle,

I'm happy with this one but want to do a more developed one. Alas it's been a week since I did this and I still haven't figured out what composition to use for the finished one. Oh well, I guess this soup needs to simmer for a while longer.

You are right that they are lovely birds. So I keep waiting until I think I can do them justice!