View Full Version : Bird - If you know what kind, please let me know

08-29-2013, 12:03 PM
I have been working on this bird and need an honest C&C. I can't put my finger on it, but something doesn't feel right. By the way, if you know what kind of bird this is, I could use your help. I did this on Pastelmat paper using both hard and soft pastels. The size is 12 X 16.

08-29-2013, 03:17 PM
It is a crowned crane. If you posted the photo you worked from it would be easier to advise on what is not quite right.

08-29-2013, 08:07 PM
Thank you for the name - Crowned Crane. I am attaching a copy of the photo that I used. It is a reference photo by Patrick Hedges. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it.

Moises Menendez
08-29-2013, 09:15 PM
I believe that your perception is correct. The answer may be in the values of the photo and the values of your painting. If you could convert the photo into a black and white you could tell the difference. There is a significant contrast in values on the bird vs the background, whereas in your rendition the values are lighter and similar therefore the contrasts are not very dramatic. Try to darken the plumage of the bird and you will see the difference.

08-29-2013, 10:27 PM
It's a wonderful painting. Since you asked, besides the values mentioned above I would suggest toning down the tall grasses on the left and perhaps in a few other areas. They read too yellow to me and draw attention from bird. I see cooler colors in the tall grasses. The legs also don't appear to be substantial enough to support the bird. Now I am pretty much a beginner and do pastels as a hobby so please know my thoughts are those of a novice. pam:wave:

08-29-2013, 10:39 PM
It's me again, sorry for second comment. I keep looking back and forth between photo and painting. I noted feathers in back end pretty much at first joint in top of leg and in the painting they end much lower. I would say the "punch" areas could be the bold pink in the face and the gold in the crown, so go bolder in these areas. Pam

08-30-2013, 02:31 AM
Besides checking the values, if I could I would overlay the photo with your painting and check some of the proportions. The black part of the crown/head appears larger and more forward in the painting, giving the impression that this part of the anatomy is fuller than it is. You have also created a rather round body, whereas the bird has more of an avocado shape. And yes, the legs could be more substantial and have their form more defined.

Punching the colors is another good idea. If you look closely, there is a hint of warm gold toward the tips of the white feathers in the back of the bird. In fact, all of the white feathers would benefit from being rendered in very warm whites, meaning not pure white. Of course it is hard to see your exact colors due to camera and monitor differences, but the painting has a somewhat "chalky" appearance, indicating you have used white where some other "lights" may have given warmth and depth to the coloration. You have used literal colors: black, grays, and white, whereas you as the artist have license to use any colors you wish to convey the look as opposed to "recording the facts." And remember that the colors of the environment will be reflected in our subjects as we paint!

The crane is such a symbolic and iconic bird in art, and is often rendered stylistically, so I have found some examples of other birds to use as examples. The first is a wonderful painting of two white pigeons (http://johncookpaints.blogspot.com/2011/04/still-more-fowl-paintings-i-try-to.html). Note the variety of warm and cool colors the artist used to make "white" feathers! Also note how he modeled bird bodies that look like they have mass and texture. The next painting is of a vulture (http://www.birdingart.com/pages/griffiths/whiteheadedvulture.html), but wow, who knew they could be so beautiful? Check out this artist's bird paintings while you are there . . . study the use of warm and cool colors and highlights to define the feathers. He is also rather expert at integrating the bird and the background into a unified image. I encourage you to click on the "bird gallery" link as well for other artists' works . . . where you will find this African Grey-Crowned Crane (http://www.birdingart.com/pages/diment/crownedcrane.html).

I too think the grasses in the foreground could be warmed up, and the gray background could benefit from the suggestion of a little more definition without being too "in focus." A little more variety in the thickness of the blades of grass would help too, as some are turned and look thin and sharp, while others hide in the shade or bounce the light. Use some of the same colors in the grasses that you used in the bird -- I see some olive and dark purplish gray in there.

My first impression was that you may have a limited range of pastel colors to work with, as many of us do. In that case experiment with layering and laying colors side-by-side to get more range in the colors. And then when you are almost done, tweak the center of interest with a dash of bolder color! Some rose in the birds "cheeks" and a little orange in the crown, and some olive in the legs would make it pop.

Not a particularly easy subject to tackle, but you have done a fine job. Never forget that if a subject grabs you as this one did, you may do it over and over and over, using different papers and grounds, different color palettes, and some new strokes . . . as experimenting is the best way to learn and grow!

[Please forgive any typos and errors I may have missed in spite of many proof-readings tonight. I am afraid my battle against a chronic pain condition has gotten the best of me, but I did not want to put off responding after you went to the trouble to post the photo. Besdies, you have gotten some other great responses and good suggestions . . . enjoy!]