Thursday, September 3, 2015

Return of the Common Yellowthroat - In Nature and on Paper

Common Yellowthroat on Birch Tree at Houston Meadows. Sumi Brush Pen and Watercolor Painting by Ken Januski.

About a month ago we ran into some Friends of the Wissahickon Trail Ambassadors. One of them asked if the Common Yellowthroats, which always seem so common at Houston Meadows, were scarcer this year. I said I didn't think so. But when I saw eight of them yesterday I had to reconsider. That is far more than I saw most of the summer. Were these migrants? Or were they maybe the offspring of the birds that had bred there just now making themselves more evident?

I really don't know. Perhaps we thought that there were a lot there but we mainly saw them in May and the early fall and didn't realize that they were scarce in July and August. I'm not sure. In any case I was struck by them and vowed to do at least one sumi brush pen field sketch. It is below, along with a Great Blue Heron seen along the Manayunk Canal recently.

Great Blue Heron and Common Yellowthroat. Sumi Brush Pen Field Sketch by Ken Januski.

I've done a fair number of sumi brush pen and watercolor paintings this summer, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else. I thought that maybe I'd get back to prints after the 'Confusing Fall Warblers' sumi brush pen and watercolor painting. But I wanted to try out the Common Yellowthroat in Birches in those media.

It may require some handcuffs on my wrists but I'm going to try my best not to do any more work on the painting. I'm always seeking to keep watercolors fresh, and then always managing to make them darker and muddier as I tweak them. I've already done a bit of that. But I'm going to do my best to leave this just as is.

I think it will also work as a print. But I'm not sure right now whether I really will turn back to prints or just keep on with the sumi brush pen and watercolor. Why quit while I'm ahead?!

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