Yellow-billed Magpie 2

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This looks like the insane work of someone who has just had their just eyes dilated and then had too much wine with dinner. Wait a second… Never mind. Behold! The Yellow-billed Magpie (one of only two California endemic bird species) with some base iridescence colors in place. Next come the heavy shadows, and more detail. Perhaps more wine…

Yellow-billed Magpie 1

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My very last minute submission to Artistic Nature’s “Fitting Art into Your (busy) Life” event: Yellow-billed Magpie. It seems like this may be the ONLY species endemic to the State of California. Other oft-cited endemics such as Bell’s Sparrow, or California Gnatcatcher, drift into Baja California or other neighboring states, albeit only by a little. The Yellow-billed Magpie is restricted to the Great Central Valley of California, where it is prevented by leaving by mountains on all sides of its range. Anyway, I’ve been meaning to draw one of these for a while. This is only the rough preliminary work, many more hours ahead, and I’m leaving plenty of room for iridescence on this one…

Black Storm-Petrel 3

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Black Storm-Petrel at a very ugly stage in the portrait process. I’ve laid down some course base colors and heavy shadows, but I’m too tired to continue tonight. The form of the animal has been improved (I think), with revised head shape and upright posture. (See earlier notes for details). There’s a surprising amount of light tan-bold in a bird named “Black”, but they do indeed appear dark at sea—much darker than the Ashy Storm-Petrel. I love these birds, the Storm Birds, but the Black Storm Petrel is particularly exiting for me. It has a singular quality, and stands out among the more numerous Ashy. Tiny, an Swallow-like in many ways, the Storm Petrels do not seem up to the task of survival at sea, and yet they do. This species has a recognizable flight style, with deep wing beats and long glides. A bit like a Nighthawk. They are in total command of the elements, dodging in and out, up and over the waves. They always get the attention of birders on board. Much more work ahead, but not tonight.

Black Storm-Petrel 2

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I’ve made minor adjustments to Black Storm-Petrel‘s flight posture and wing position. They include a more rounded head, which is held above the line of flight, resulting in a more puffed-out breast. These edits were done on a photocopy of the sketch (because I wanted to “test” the changes), but will be transferred on the actual composition later if they work. I think they’re working…