Green Heron

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I saw a Green Heron today, so tonight’s subject was pretty easy to choose… I used photo reference on this but I hope I brought something new to the composition… like substantial inaccuracy. What a great bird!

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“Taiga” Merlin (Falco columbarius columbarius)

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We’ve noticed a male Taiga Merlin winter in our neighborhood each winter for the past four years. I just saw him again yesterday a few blocks from our home. If we’re lucky, he’ll take his afternoon perch in the huge redwood near the pool again soon, making it five years. This colored pencil portrait was done using several photographs for reference. As usual, I composited a bit from each image to match my experience with the bird.

Whimbrel (completed)

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I picked up the Whimbrel again after several days working late at the office. Those of you who paint or draw probably know how hard it is to pick up a project again after the unfinished piece has been sitting there waiting for you… Someone asked me how I approached all the coverts and scapulars on this bird… I began I blocking out feather groups in pale gray, and then began filling the dark centers with various shades of cool brown tones. When it began to look correct to me I defined the feather edges along feather groups with confident strokes of a No.2 pencil. My technique is a bit sketchy, and probably not terribly accurate, but I enjoy the motion the quick strokes create.

Whimbrel (preliminary)

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Preliminary work on a Whimbrel portrait in colored pencil. You can see the underlying structural shapes, some of which I will allow to show after the piece is done. I rather like drawings that have the movement and tension of initial sketches, even when they are completed, so that’s my goal.

Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper

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There were three juvenile Pectoral Sandpipers at Coyote Hills this weekend. I found their honey-striped plumage very beautiful. I think I under-emphasized the striped quality of the back, which is not entirely unlike that of a Wilson’s Snipe. In any case, the proportions are important for this bird, as it is larger than other Calidris Sandpipers and therefore has a smaller head in relation to body. As well, the neck is rather long and thick and the bill somewhat short.