Monday, August 26, 2013

What is That Duck Looking At?

White-tailed Deer, Green Heron and Wood Duck at Morris Arboretum. Conte Sketch by Ken Januski.

About a week ago I was birding and sketching at the wetlands of Morris Arboretum, hoping to find some of the migrants that I've often found in previous Augusts. I had my scope with me to help with the sketching. At one point I saw a Wood Duck and then noticed a Green Heron next to her. But why was the neck of the duck stretched, gawking at something to the left? Then I noticed the Green Heron was looking that way too.

I couldn't see anything. Later however when I was over on that side of the pond I found a White-tailed Deer, something we see occasionally there but really not that often. I didn't see him until 15-30 minutes after seeing the gawking birds. But he was in a similar direction and various small islands would have blocked an earlier view of him. As soon as I put this all together I also put together an image for potential painting or print.

Above is a 9x12 Conte sketch in Stillman and Birn's Gamma sketchbook. I thought about various media for this study and did a few preliminary pencil sketches. I chose Conte, largely because I've found that it forces me to simplify, to get a better sense of the mass and gesture and not worry about detail. That's pretty much the method I used in the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Conte sketches that were the basis for a lino/woodcut a month or two ago.

So that's sort of my idea here. However I rarely draw or paint deer. This will be something new for me. But I'm in an experimental mood so I may just give this a try as a small linocut and or woodcut.

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