The Rose-breasted Grosbeak’s have been plentiful this season. I have my own photos, but a friend, Steve Bradley, took one of a male that truly inspired me. I used his photo for my painting and one of my own for the female.
First I practiced drawing them since their big old beaks were a new shape for me.
Then I tried the male on my Mom’s Mother’s Day card/letter. I decided I liked that so well, I did the couple in my nature journal (the first image above.)
I watched a Cooper’s Hawk wrestle with a huge stick that had a smaller one hooked to it. When he finally got them untangled, he ended up with the short stick and appeared quite disgruntled about it. He tossed it down and left, at that point, and went up into the tree and started wrestling with another branch. It was very entertaining.
It is that time of year – it started a month early, in fact, so I have been busy this October with Christmas gift painting. Most of them I can not show until after the holiday, but here is one that I can share.
A study in my various pencils – this is a common thing to do to get comfortable with the tools for the current project.
The Natural History Illustration course has been fun and a lot of learning is happening. Some of the homework included unfinished sketches demonstrating the learning techniques.
First activity was to work with natural items, breaking them down into geometric shapes, working their curves, etc. and this shell really showed me how rusty I am.
We then did field sketches of birds. Some people really finished them out. I need to spend time doing more of that, but part of my problem in the field is thinking things have to be perfect. I am working to let go of that and just get it down on paper first. Also, this was sketch paper and I knew better than to try watercolors, but did it anyway. It is a learning and reminding process.
I learned about studying flowers and how to turn them into geometric shapes (not pictured), measure, and make notations. This lesson was interesting, but I found it a bit too detailed for me. I love seeing these types of illustrations. I hate doing them.
This was about learning how to quickly capture form and essence of mammals. Now we are getting into my “love”.
We studied skeletal structure, which I actually found quite fascinating. I used one of our raccoons who was trying to get to our bird feeder as my model and tried 3 different gesture drawings for each pose. This lesson was real helpful and I enjoyed it immensely. I may be studying skeletal structures a bit more!
The preliminary blocking activities were very helpful. I normally jump right to this type of gesture drawing above, but doing the 2 preliminary gestures made doing this one so much easier and correct. That was an interesting ah-ha for me!
This was a practice on how to block off parts of birds using circles, ovals, and geometric shapes – which is difficult for me to do. We also looked at how their skeletal structure is made.
I am going to have to practice this a lot more and, for once, I am excited about practicing!
Painting the love in peoples life – preserving memories for their tree.
I was looking at the magnified detail that can not be seen with the naked eye and it hit me that it is impressionistic.
I push paint around and create the impression of their pet. Often with a 000 sized brush and a cat’s whisker (the cats participate via donations throughout the year.)
This year I did not finish out the month strong – 2 things happened. I began volunteering for Providence Wildlife Rehab and I started getting more Christmas orders than was in my plan, so any creative activities need to go that direction. And I can not show those.
However, I did do some warmup exercises that I thought you might like. The subject was one of our Educational Ambassadors, a Screech Owl named Red.
So goodby, Inktober! You have given me some wonderful projects for the upcoming year. Now if life will just give me the time.
Day 16 – Angular – I was just starting to draw a Great Egret I photographed at Eagle Creak this month. As I was playing with the lines (in nature they so often replicate, lending a beautiful symmetry to the animal or bird), ta da – Angular happened by accident. I think it has the most likes of any on my Instagram.
Day 15 – Weak – I could not get the image to work, so I started doing my quick 10 second drills to loosen up my hand. I was flipping through Google images and when I was done, these made me laugh so hard that I shared them.
This was a hard work week, so I went off script in order to keep inking. Other than these first two, I did not follow the prompts and just had fun and used the time to loosen up.
Hispid Corbis Rat / Red-Breasted Nuthatch study (saw my first one on our feeder this past week! Had to commemorate a “lifer”. The rat was from Google images.)
Below is my first ever fan art. Then the ravens took 2 days with the first being for the initial sketch.
I love James and Margaret, who have made a backyard habitat in CA their home. The “caretakers” of that space give this loving pair of ravens food puzzles on their deck and interact with them in very fun ways. I have been wanting to sketch these guys for some time and took this opportunity. I think they would look very great in paint! Next project!
Corvids are extremely smart birds and I have learned so much from James and his only love, Margaret. It is amazing to watch their story unfold. You can follow them and their fellow inhabitants of that backyard on Instagram or Facebook.