Almost as soon as I published my last post on including an environment in bird and wildlife art I noticed another method of bringing vitality and a sense of the excitement of nature that I'd forgotten to mention. This is surprising since it is what really convinced me that you could make art out of natural and specifically wildlife subjects. That other method of course is working from life.
I first noticed this in Drawing Birds by John Busby. But as soon as I posted the last post I noticed another fine example by a contemporary Spanish artist. I think that there is something that so often comes through in the work of anyone who draws or paints birds or other wildlife from life. That sense of stagnation and boredom that so often accompanies work based solely on photos is completely absent in artists who work from life.
As you can see from the sketch above though not everyone is equally able when working from life. Except for the Common Green Darner at upper left the other birds on these pages were sketched by me over the last couple of days in Cape May, NJ. One of the more exciting birds was a Whimbrel at the Wetlands Institute on bottom left, two Seaside Sparrows only one of which I sketched on bottom right and the first visible Common Yellowthroat above. I'd heard them the day before but finally a number came out to sing in their striking black, yellow and white colors. Though I didn't succeed very well I wanted to capture the fabulous yellow throat of the Common Yellowthroat.
In any case there are really quite a number of artists who work from life, though I know of very few American artists who do, though there are some. But they are well worth pursuing. And they do often create really strong art that has all the excitement of being outside in nature.
|Black Skimmers at Heislerville WMA. Photo by Ken Januski.
I always enter my bird sightings in ebird and today I had problems with some birds seen on our trip. Ebird, with good reason, doesn't expect certain birds to be around yet, based on years of previous data. But birds always surprise you. One species that created problems was the Black Skimmer, two examples of which are seen above, from yesterday at Heislerville WMA in Cumberland County, NJ.
Normally I just upload my photos to Picasaweb and create a link that I can embed in my ebird list. Not today. All of my photos are currently missing on Picasaweb. My guess is that this is due to Google trying to force people to use Google+, their answer to Facebook. I understand their point of view but it's also a slap in the face to their users. So I won't soon be using Google+. In the meantime though I have no way of showing the photos to ebird. That is the main reason I'm showing the photo above.
|Semi-palmated Sandpipers at Heislerville WMA. Photo by Ken Januski.
Less well seen and photographed at the same location yesterday were some Semi-palmated Sandpipers. Two are pictured above, also as proof for ebird.
Before we left Philadelphia for Cape May I had heard my first Louisiana Waterthrush, singing and singing but never making himself visible. Though I love to finally know that they are here it's always an exciting day when we see our first one. Today at Morris Arboretum Jerene had the honors of finding the first one. More than that he was very cooperative and seemed oblivious to us. So along with photos I also took a quick video with my camera and put it on YouTube: Louisiana Waterthrush at Morris Arboretum. I always greatly enjoy seeing them. And I think you can see from this video why it is difficult to sketch them, at least when they are moving as quickly as this.