Monday, May 5, 2014

Sketching Warblers is Better Than .........

Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green Warblers and Great-crested Flycatcher. Field sketches by Ken Januski.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Field sketches by Ken Januski.

Photographing them. There's no doubt about it. It is tremendously more exciting and rewarding to sketch warblers or any birds than to photograph them. And yet who would believe such a statement? Well at least some bird artists do. But you can bet that if I show the sketches above from last week or so of birds seen live to someone I meet while out birding and then show them the photograph below of a Worm-eating Warbler, first seen yesterday but not successfully photographed until today that they'll go for the photograph, almost as though pulled by some giant magnet. It's as though it isn't even a real choice. Like asking someone if they'd prefer a one dollar bill to a one hundred dollar bill.

Worm-eating Warbler at Carpenters Woods. Photo by Ken Januski.

I've never successfully photographed a Worm-eating Warbler and have had a hard enough time even finding them and seeing them. So it's a real accomplishment for me to finally get a recognizable photo. And at some point it will prove useful.

But when I look at the three photos above only two strike me as exciting, the sketches. Part of this is that they represent a great deal of risk-taking, something that unfortunately is often missing in bird art. But it is truly risky to try to get down on paper birds as you see them. Few people are successful at this. But half the thrill is in the very attempt. It seems hopeless to even try and yet once you have something down you've started on the path to learning more and getting better.

My warbler field sketches still have many of the same problems that they had 3-4 years ago. But they're also improving. And I know what I need to do to make them better, for instance pay more attention to the stance and distribution of weight as I look at them so that I can get that sense of life in my sketches. Field sketching is a never ending challenge. And that is why it is so thoroughly more enjoyable than photography.


Ellen Snyder said...

Nice sketches Ken!

So nice to be hearing and seeing new spring arrivals each day. Still only a few of the warblers so far up here, but thrushes, orioles, vireos brighten the morning chorus. Happy Spring.


Ken Januski said...

Happy Spring Ellen!

What a flurry of activity we're finally having. We need 36 hours per day during this time of year!