Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Rich Colors of Fall (Birds)

Palm Warbler at Manayunk Canal. Watercolor by Ken Januski.

Yes, everyone knows, and the lucky few appreciate the rich colors of fall. They seem a bit of a reward for the cold grays and browns that will be here soon. But occasionally you also find a bird that takes part in the rich splendor.

Such is the case with the eastern race of the Palm Warbler. The western race is much duller. And the eastern race in spring is very bright. But there aren't too many more richly colored birds, outside of perhaps some ducks, at this time of year.

As I walked along the Manayunk Canal and Schuylkill River this very brisk but sunny morning I decided to take a detour into a junky field, once an asphalt lot I think, that is now dominated by wild chamomile and who knows what other plants. Burs of some sort because I always leave covered in them. And sparrows.

But rarely warblers. I don't think I've ever seen Palm Warblers there though this certainly is the time for them. In any case a good number of them were there amidst the very rich, orange, red, yellow and purple foliage. I took a number of photos and determined that when I got home I'd find the time to do a watercolor. Not a watercolor sketch this time, but a finished watercolor.

It is 7x10 inches on Arches 140# cold press paper. I'm once again reminded that I think a well done watercolor is without a doubt the most difficult medium in two dimensions. It is so easy to turn it into mud. I was afraid many times that I'd done that here. But I think in the end that I've gotten the rich colors of the foliage and the handsome Palm Warbler.

Before I'd even gotten my binoculars out of the back of the car when I arrived this morning a mature Bald Eagle flew by, over the Schuylkill River. That I think was an omen that it would be a good day for birding and for art.

Addendum. After I'd posted this I looked at watercolor again and noticed how much duller the actual watercolor looked. Part of this is due to the nature of viewing anything on a computer screen and the heightened brightness that occurs. But the rest was due I think to the drying of the watercolors. So this morning I scanned what I think is a more accurate, but slightly less rich, version of the watercolor.

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