Friday, October 14, 2011

Oh Bladdernut!

I went out in search of Red-headed Woodpecker the last two days with no luck. I haven't seen it in three days so my guess is that it's gone.

Every once in awhile I run into the shrub portrayed at right above in the fall along the Wissahickon. And always have to look it up. It's Bladdernut. My guess it that it's more nondescript in spring and summer, hidden behind much green.

Today it was wet and foggy and that made the shrub, and particulary its seed pods, stand out. It's only in fall I think that I'm tempted to show photos for their beauty rather than for any documentary purpose. The dark graceful shapes of the seedpods against the brilliant yellows, oranges, reds and browns of the leaves was too much to pass up.

More than that it gave me an idea for a painting. I really only saw the Red-headed Woodpecker in the distance, atop a 60' snag. But portraying just that rarely works. So I thought about putting the bladdernut in the foreground and leaving a very small Red-headed Woodpecker in the background.

And that's what I did. I first did the drawing with a Bic pen, then decided to add watercolor wash. I didn't realize that the ink would run horribly. So almost all colors have some black in them, and the lines ran. So I added white gouache to try to redefine the shape of the distant woodpecker.

All in all I'm happy with this. It's so easy to feel that everything has already been done in bird art. One thing I often do is to try to combine a realistic environment and the bird in such a way as to make it seem fresh. I hope it seems fresh.Eventually I may work with this theme again, either as a painting or a print.

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