Yesterday’s Black-throated Blue Warbler was a fun subject to draw, except for the crippling uncertainty I experienced as I decided to completely reposition the head midway in the process, and then place the bird in a some context…. quite unlike my earlier drawings.
When Cricket and I were in Lodi for the holiday, we made a point of visiting the nearby Sandhill Crane preserve on Woodbridge Road. We also visited Staten Island Road where we were treated to both of our California subspecies of the Sandhill. We found it interesting how the two populations tended to segregate themselves, but were also not opposed to mixing on occasion. We found several groups that contained both the abundant “Lesser” and the less numerous “Greater” Sandhill Cranes. The smaller “Lesser” breeds in Alaska, while the larger “Greater” breeds in southern Canada and even in portions of California. I had always worried that I would not be able to tell the two apart, but when seen together the differences in their head shape, bill length and overall size were obvious. We also found that the “Lessers” tended to be more warmly colored with much rusty brown, while the “Greaters” were cleaner cold gray. This quick portrait attempts to illustrate those differences.
More color and definition has been added to an equal amount uncertainty and anxiety… Occasionally, although not uncommonly of late, drawings seem to “get away” from me. As much as I strive to maintain control, and carefully add the details I see in my mind, the project drifts into sketchiness and inexactitude. This doesn’t necessarily mean the drawing comes out badly, but it does mean I lack the skill to direct the drawing where I wish it to go. Oh well… move on.
A few major feathers on the Sora are edged-out. This is the blocking stage, as I sometimes call it. Major feather groups, if visible, are roughed in. If feather groups are not obvious (as they were in my earlier drawings of Sparrows), conspicuous feather edges are defined instead. In the case of Rails (and Shorebirds), the groupings are not always obvious because the scapulars drift downward and obscure the wings. Usually, this stage goes hand-in-hand with a bit more darkening of plumage details. The drawing becomes more confident than it was for the initial scribbles and I usually take a break to reflect on the drawing’s progress. That usually involves going to bed and sleeping for about 8 hours. I’ll return tomorrow night after work.