|Blue-winged Warbler in Apple Blossoms. Watercolor by Ken Januski|
There was something wrong about the Pine Warbler that Jerene saw just in front of us in an apple along the edge of the Wissahickon. The yellow was mighty bright. AND there was that black line through the eye. Though this was a likely location for Pines there was no doubt that this was our first Blue-winged Warbler of the year.
I did a quick sketch in the Moleskine sketchbook that I always carry in my backpocket. But I also wanted to get a color version. So I brought out my new Gamma 5.5x85 sketchbook from Stillman and Birn and inaugurated it with this sketch. This seemed only fitting after my demonstration of Stillman and Birn sketchbooks yesterday. The demo went very well, as far as I could tell, outside of a minuscule audience. But thanks to you who showed up. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something from it.
I read once of a bird artist doing a second version of field sketches in the studio as soon as he possibly could. Perhaps it was Lars Jonsson but I can't say for sure. In either case it seems like a very good process. Draw the bird as accurately as you can in the field drawing only what you can see. Then elaborate on it on another sheet of paper back in the studio. It solidifies what you've seen but doesn't adulterate your initial impressions.
Speaking of adulteration though this bird was brilliant yellow. Sometimes you just choose the wrong yellow when you go to render something. That's what happened here. And it's pretty sad given that the yellow was the most important part of the bird. Looks like it's time to add a new yellow to my palette!
The rest of the day saw few warblers but many views of Pileated Woodpeckers. I can only guess why this normally shy woodpecker seems so visible now. It's looking for food for young or a female on nest. That's just a guess. Maybe it's just the lack of foliage. In any case it's nice to get so many views of them. It makes up for a 4-5 month drought.
Straight from sighting to sketchbook then sketchbook to studio is often the best way. There are times when something leaves an impression so strong that it just has to become a full blown studio painting right away.
Sounds like a good idea to me. I'm talking about more of an intermediate step though, where the second part is a studio study not a full blown painting.
But when something really strikes you I bet that you're completely right - go straight to a full blown studio painting! Now we'll see if I can follow my own advice.
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