View Full Version : May Morning at Moonan's Marsh

05-20-2015, 03:21 PM
At the finishing/refinishing/tweaking stages. I have been trying to get over to this marsh as much as possible the past few weeks to collect images for a project I am working on. This is the first installment of what eventually will be a fifteen piece collection. MV's and Giraults on UArt #800. C&C welcome and appreciated.


water girl
05-20-2015, 04:05 PM
Marcus! This is wonderfully done. The pose of the bird adds a bit of tension to a an otherwise lovely marsh painting. The complimentary colors work so well. Only one tiny suggestion for you. It may need shadows to ground the bird where the feet grasp the stems. By the way, does this bird have a name. It has the coloring of a goldfinch.

05-20-2015, 04:09 PM
How about yellow headed blackbird.
Wow, Marcus! I can here him squawking!!! Nice work

water girl
05-20-2015, 05:54 PM
Let me pop back in here. I've been looking at this again. It's such a beautiful painting. Maybe his left leg and claws (our right) needs a few hints of light hitting them. There is sunlight hitting that reed or grass, coming from the left. So low on the leg and that one claw might have light. I hope that makes sense.

05-20-2015, 08:43 PM
Marcus, your bird is gorgeous! You've captured the colors and sheen of his feathers so well. His chest is really puffed up--he's posing and calling for a potential mate? I like the background but think it could use some sharpening here and there? I guess I mean sharpening a bit in the foreground. There's a color missing in the foreground, but I don't know what it is. Probably the perennial purple or orange! :lol: Maybe add hints of brown cattails around the pond? Just thoughts. You know what's best! It's a lovely painting!

05-20-2015, 09:39 PM
I can understand what you are saying about grounding the subject, yet in this instance there really is only a few reeds in close proximity to do so. It would not be technically incorrect to add high light to the birds left feet, perhaps even a touch of light on the birds right side to give a little more shape, and this is something I have been wondering about. So glad you noticed this Karen.
When the Yellow-headed Blackbird returns to it's nesting grounds, a very unique habitat of rushes, reeds or cat tails in submerged deep water areas, usually not accessible or connected by land. The male immediately collects his harem of mates which can be as many as eight and is very protective and aggressive defending it's territory from other males, predators, etc. Their early habitat is still remnants of winter with greens beginning to show its color. The tannish/ochre dried reeds are bleached by the sun,however they do possess a reflective quality showing colors of gray/lavendar, gray/blue, browns and peach. I think you make a valid point in incorporating some color, particularly in the foreground which may help to create a better sense of depth? Because of the nature of my project, it was necessary to incorporate the surrounding habitat which I might not have done otherwise based on most of my past work. I hope I created a believable perspective?

05-21-2015, 12:14 AM
The star of this painting. the Yellow-headed Blackbird is one of my favorite birds not only for it's brilliant, contrasting colors, but for it's squeeky barn gate opening/closing song. It's call starts out with a few nearly inaudible clucks and resounds with a metallic, screachy sound, often thrusting it's head forward and as in this classic pose tilting its head backwards and off to the side. They sing their songs often from a high perch amongst the reeds. In this image the wind blows its breast feathers, exposing the whites of the undersides. They do indeed look a proud bird with their upper breast puffed out. I was very fortunate to run across a location that put me within a hundred feet away, spending dozens of hours listening to their song and observing their behavior. I have over 1500 photo images to refer to. Now that the new, less sturdy reeds are growing tall enough to overtake the heights of the older stout reeds, it is much more difficult to get clear shots of the birds. The females seldom show themselves as they focus on building the nest suspended over water, caring for and defending her domain close to home in the deep vegetation.
These marshlands are slowly dissapearing but does not appear to be an immediate threat to the wildlife that habits this environment. I have sat for hours listening to an orchestration of mysterious sounds and a vast variety of waterfowl and shoreline birds.

Thanks for comments and suggestions Karen , Jay & Blayne. I will post an update as soon as I get to it.

05-21-2015, 02:57 AM
Great understanding of a bird's soul :) and wonderful, vast marsh landscape! I am a beginner in pastels, yet instinctively missed a bit more contrast/strength & warm color shade in 2-3 foremost reeds (e.g. the ones he grasps & one more on the left, slightly tilted?). I think that would add the depth in the foreground - the general depth and perspective are great.
It's such a beautiful painting!!! Look forward to see more of this series.

05-21-2015, 09:10 AM
Thank you for a bit of interesting reading about the bird and his habitat! I agree with raxu that the perspective is just fine.

05-22-2015, 10:18 AM
Wow! This is just gorgeous! I don't think I've ever seen a wildlife painting of a bird with quite the energy that you've captured and portrayed. Beautiful!

Donna T
05-22-2015, 05:35 PM
This is a beautiful beginning to your series, Marcus! One thing to consider is that the bird's colors are relatively intense or saturated compared to his surroundings. Maybe a few hints of stronger greens in the grasses and some colors in the reeds in the foreground would add to the sense of depth? I can easily imagine using some of the bird's golden yellows to "flavor" the reeds closest to him. You do such wonderful work on wildlife!

ural jones
05-23-2015, 11:59 AM
Yes, I agree this is a beautiful bird painting. I really enjoy looking at it and I am very reluctant to mention this because this is so nice. Well, when I saw the cloud formation heading toward the birds open mouth...., now I cannot get the thought from my mind that he coughed something up.
Could you somehow divert the cloud line either above or below the open mouth?
Sorry but if I noticed it others might also ~ perhaps I have helped.....I hope so because I especially like the sky and the depth and the landscape effect.:wave: .

05-23-2015, 05:10 PM
Oh wow! Love the dynamic pose on the bird, that sense of it throwing heart and soul into its song. The shadows among the reeds seem a bit pale, wouldn't there be some darks at some places where they cross and double-shade and show specks of darkened water? The nearest reeds could have some darks pushed. But overall wonderful!

05-25-2015, 02:30 PM

Very good, keen observations and suggestions. Much appreciated everyone. I think I have tried to implement everyones thoughts into these updates. I can already see that there is some tweaking yet to do. Here is the update so far. Not sure what to think of the other bird in the midground? It seems to stick out more on the computer screen than it does looking at the original.