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JTMB
12-04-2010, 02:05 AM
Hi everyone,

November was good portrait practice, but now it's back to my more comfortable subject matter - birds. For day 1 of 12, I opted for the Common Raven.

Ravens earn their reputation for being smart and tricky (Northwest Indian tribes placed the raven as equal to their most respected species of animals). They may look somewhat like crows, but crows do not like ravens (and vice versa). My wife and I attended a very interesting talk by the author/photographer for the book Salmon in the Trees on Tuesday evening. She spent two summers photographing wildlife with a focus on salmon in the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska. She had a sequence of photos showing one Bald Eagle with a salmon it was eating. A second eagle came to try to steal the salmon. A raven was watching intently from behind the first eagle. A fight ensued between the eagles over the fish and while they were duking it out, the raven snuck in, lowered itself almost to the ground and snuck in under one of the eagles to grab some of the salmon. No wonder the Northwest tribes referred to the raven as the trickster.

This is an A4 Moleskine sketchbook, done in Pitt pens from a field ID reference.

C&C always welcome.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/04-Dec-2010/165640-103-0480-PAN-CORAforDecSBook-Dec3,10-WS.jpg

virgo68
12-04-2010, 08:37 AM
cool! I love the way everyone tackles these challenges so differently ;)

RainySea
12-04-2010, 10:35 AM
Love the raven, John. . . very nice. Good theme for you as I know they are your first love to draw. Also thanks for all the info on them, too. We have some crows or ravens (not sure which) that hang out near the back of the property & sometimes dive bomb my dogs. Little stinkers.

BTW, I read an article not so long ago that said that ravens are the most intelligent of birds and that they maybe be as intelligent as apes and dolphins. Did you see that?

CandAlArt
12-04-2010, 12:20 PM
So glad The Bird Man has returned! Great Raven. I have a lot of black birds, several species no doubt, but I am not sure which are which. I love seeing any birds, and don't understand why some people say they don't like crows or ravens or whichever. Superstitious? Methinks. :eek:

Elain
12-04-2010, 12:45 PM
Great raven and interesting story. he/she certainly seems as if he is on the lookout for something.

i look forward to seeing the rest of your 12 days of birds.

DrDebby
12-04-2010, 01:11 PM
Splendid raven. Thanks for the information.

Joan T
12-04-2010, 04:36 PM
Great job on the raven!! Can't wait to see more.

JTMB
12-04-2010, 05:06 PM
Thanks Jackie, Rainy, Candace, Elain, Debby and Joan!

Well, if the raven isn't the most intelligent bird, it's right up there. There are many examples. Here's one from a fellow naturalist in this area...

He was moving firewood from the outside stack into the house for the winter. This process usually disturbs some mice who have taken up a home in the firewood stack. A raven showed up while he was moving the wood and watched intently from a nearby tree. Sure enough, a mouse scooted out from the woodpile and ran under a sheet of plywood laying nearby. The fellow noticed that the raven clearly saw the mouse and appeared to be interested in it. So, he moved away a bit to see what happened. The raven immediately flew down and peeked under the plywood to see where the mouse was. The raven couldn't reach the mouse, so walked up on top of the plywood to an area where it was imbalanced and began jumping up and down on the plywood, which made noise and moved it a bit. The mouse ran out and didn't get very far until the raven grabbed it and flew off to enjoy the meal.

Ravens, like other intelligent animals (monkeys, for example) apparently enjoy playing for play's sake. I saw a video clip of this some time ago, made in the UK. Along the chalk cliffs at the coast, a strong onshore breeze created a powerful updraft along the sheer cliffs. Several ravens discovered this and began to use it for entertainment. They would fly out away from the cliff, then fly in toward the cliff and when they hit the updraft, it would blow them completely out of control, tumbling in the air current. They would then recover, fly out and do the whole thing again - sort of like a roller coaster ride at the county fair!

JTMB
12-04-2010, 11:07 PM
Day 2 is the Lewis's Woodpecker, chosen because it is rare in our area on the wet side of the mountains. But I've beaten the odds on this species, as I've found at least four over the last three years, including one this year (all in migration) that showed up on a power pole behind our town's post office for a couple hours. This species is a bit odd-looking in that it has the pinkish belly and dark green back with the red patch on the cheek. Also, it relies more on catching bugs for food (while flying) than other woodpeckers. And the final bit of trivia for it is that its name came from Meriwether Lewis, who discovered and documented the species on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The two pieces are done in Polychromos colored pencil on an A4 Moleskine sketchbook page.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/04-Dec-2010/165640-103-0484-PAN-LEWOforSB-Dec4,10-WS.jpg

WYSIWYG
12-05-2010, 02:14 AM
These are fabulous! The ravens black is done so well and the expression on the face/eyes of both is super. :D

sarales
12-05-2010, 07:17 AM
These are great! What fascinating information about the ravens. I'll have to read up now to tell the difference between ravens and crows!

JTMB
12-05-2010, 11:50 AM
Thanks WYSIWYG and Leslie!

Leslie - telling the two apart is easy with experience but can be difficult at first for beginners. The primary differentiations are:

Size - raven is bigger, often substantially so, but size varies within a species and is tough to estimate without a lot of experience, so this is only one clue.

Head and bill structure - raven has a different shape to its face and head, with the bill being larger and appearing more prominent than in crows. In flight, the raven's head appears longer and more prominent than crow, which is more compact in appearance.

Tail - this is often the quickest and easiest way to tell in flight. Raven has a 'chisel-shaped' tail in which the tail feathers form a more angular wedge or chisel shape than in the crow, which has a smoother, fan shape. During molt, this can be confusing as well as birds lose tail feathers and are growing new ones.

Vocalization - The crow (at least the American Crow) has the familiar 'caww - cawww - cawww' as its primary vocalization. The raven's voice is more guttural, and is usually described as a 'croak'. The difference is obvious with experience. However, as with many field marks in birds, everything has 'usually' and 'but' attached to it. Crows are capable of, and use, a wide range of vocalizations besides the caww, especially young birds and during breeding season.

So...until you get the experience to quickly grasp the whole picture of field marks, after which time it's easy, you have to work at it a bit or be very sure of one particular field mark or behavior. For example, crows don't like ravens and so if you see a large black bird in a tree being mobbed by very agitated (and smaller compared to the mobbed bird), the big one is a raven.

For the international folks here, this only applies to American Crow and Common Raven - there are other species of these birds in different parts of the world. :) :)

Elain
12-05-2010, 01:43 PM
Yes we have a version of the crow that is black and white so is called a magpie. I was surprised on our visit to England to see their magpies were smallish and slim.

great work on the woodpecker.

RainySea
12-05-2010, 03:58 PM
Nice page, John. Love the way you did that with him on the tree pecking and then also flying. That is amazing that they catch bugs in flight!

sarales
12-05-2010, 04:30 PM
Thanks so much for your very clear descriptions, John! I have seen the wedge shaped tail in flight and also the fan shape-now I know which is which. I will also pay more attention when black birds are attacking a larger black bird. I hear the crows a lot- especially when a hawk is around. I hear the crows and see my rooster look up- then he's warning the hens and they run under cover. It's fascinating to observe.

vhere
12-05-2010, 05:40 PM
looking good

I saw a programme on some in Japan who walked out with nuts, too hard for them to crack. placed them where oncoming cars would run over them and crack them, waited till they were run over and then collected and ate them ... repeating process :)

DrDebby
12-05-2010, 07:52 PM
Great job on the woodpeckers. Thanks for the information.

dianapotts
12-05-2010, 09:53 PM
looking good

I saw a programme on some in Japan who walked out with nuts, too hard for them to crack. placed them where oncoming cars would run over them and crack them, waited till they were run over and then collected and ate them ... repeating process :)

That's incredible! Smart!

Diana

dianapotts
12-05-2010, 09:54 PM
I'm enjoying the conversation here. What an informative thread! I'll be back!

Diana

JTMB
12-06-2010, 12:33 AM
Thanks Elain, Rainy and Leslie!

Rainy - yes, a number of species catch bugs in flight. Swallows obviously come to mind first for many people, but there is a whole family of birds called flycatchers (now that's a surprise) who are adapted to doing that. However, other species like Lewis's Woodpeckers also flycatch. Here is a link to a video I took this summer of the one behind the town's PO box. The video isn't great, but it shows the bird taking off a couple times to fly out and 'hawk' an insect, then fly back to its perch on the telephone pole. The link is - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwuMXtMpqzo.

Day 3's bird is an Osprey - known previously as a 'fish hawk.' These raptors have been steadily increasing for several decades, and are common in appropriate habitat around our house, and particularly along the Deschutes River in central Oregon where I've taken an annual float trip for the last 25 years. The birds are excellent at catching trout out of the river. The drawings here are in the A4 Moleskine sketchbook and were done in Pitt pens because they are quick compared to colored pencils or graphite. The colors are a bit off because of the relatively limited availability of colors in the Pitt set...but this gives a decent impression of the bird.

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Chuckcamo
12-06-2010, 12:42 AM
The Osprey sketches look great... they are awesome looking birds!

JTMB
12-06-2010, 12:54 AM
Thanks, Chuck! I neglected to mention that the sketches were all based on photos I took on one of our Deschutes River trips. Also, the 'fluffed-up' one was a young bird, not yet fledged, in the nest and trying to look tough. There has been an active nest near our main camp for five or six years. I was able to climb up a bank near the nest and take pictures down into the nest with a long lens (and cropping in Photoshop). It was a very unusual opportunity as Osprey nests are usually higher than anything in the surrounding area.

Elain
12-06-2010, 12:56 AM
Nice action sketches. i particularly like the pose of #2 with his hunched shoulders and fixed stare.

robertsloan2
12-06-2010, 08:53 AM
John, WOW!!! I love your raven in Pitt pens. I've always loved ravens and the Raven legends, even used them in my novel. You captured the feel and personality of the trickster in that one.

Great woodpecker too. I love the composition on that as much as the accuracy of both the close-up rendering and the distant flying one. Yours is coming out spectacular!

Then you come up with this osprey, another favorite (all raptors are). Perfect accuracy as always, so beautiful and such lively poses. You're an incredible bird illustrator and your skills have soared since I first started following your birds journals. I think the Pitt pens are freeing up something in you, the values in all of these are so strong and wonderful.

I know what you mean about the Pitt pen colors being off. I've got the full range set and I still can't find exactly the colors I need sometimes, but I've been practicing by modifying some of the lighter colors with other light colors, especially the light warm gray and that can give some good results sometimes. It worked for things like creating skin tones and some fur colors, but I still sometimes substitute the wrong hue in the right value a lot of times too. It doesn't matter, they are still so gorgeous and natural.

Looking forward to more!

JTMB
12-06-2010, 11:24 AM
Thanks Elain and Robert!

Robert - thanks for the feedback, much appreciated, especially coming from someone so skilled with the Pitt pens! I do think I've improved quite a bit, but still feel like I'm just scratching the surface. My goals are to be able to do very quick loose sketches from life that capture the essence of the bird and key field marks and are immediately identifiable by a bird person, but without putting in all the detail. Then on more finished pieces, especially paintings, I want to develop the ability to show enough detail that an ornithologist wouldn't criticize it too much but without turning it into a scientific illustration where every feather needs to be perfect and the result is an accurate but stiff piece. I feel right now that I'm sort of stuck in the middle of those two things, and so have light years to go yet - but it's also important to keep in mind that I have made progress...so I'm happy with where things are. It's comforting (in a way) to know that the world-class bird artists I admire have been at it usually for decades of close observation and hard work as well as thousands of sketches and paintings. The discomfort of that is that I got a late start in life, so I'm trying to make up for the late start by immersion into it (ok, probably borderline obsession - :lol: ). Sorry for getting wordy, but one example right now is that although my birds are reasonably accurate, I never take the time to make sure the number of feathers in the obvious feather groups are accurate for example. The ultra-realist wildlife painters would never do this. If a given species has 9 tail feathers, for example, my result might have 7 or 10 because that looks fine in my image. The real hardcore folks would walk up to my piece, immediately notice the error and dismiss the piece out of hand...:) ! So like everything else in art (and life) there's a whole spectrum of good/bad, acceptable/unacceptable, etc. I'm just doing what feels ok to me and that I'm able to do.

JTMB
12-06-2010, 11:24 AM
Thanks Elain and Robert!

Robert - thanks for the feedback, much appreciated, especially coming from someone so skilled with the Pitt pens! I do think I've improved quite a bit, but still feel like I'm just scratching the surface. My goals are to be able to do very quick loose sketches from life that capture the essence of the bird and key field marks and are immediately identifiable by a bird person, but without putting in all the detail. Then on more finished pieces, especially paintings, I want to develop the ability to show enough detail that an ornithologist wouldn't criticize it too much but without turning it into a scientific illustration where every feather needs to be perfect and the result is an accurate but stiff piece. I feel right now that I'm sort of stuck in the middle of those two things, and so have light years to go yet - but it's also important to keep in mind that I have made progress...so I'm happy with where things are. It's comforting (in a way) to know that the world-class bird artists I admire have been at it usually for decades of close observation and hard work as well as thousands of sketches and paintings. The discomfort of that is that I got a late start in life, so I'm trying to make up for the late start by immersion into it (ok, probably borderline obsession - :lol: ). Sorry for getting wordy, but one example right now is that although my birds are reasonably accurate, I never take the time to make sure the number of feathers in the obvious feather groups are accurate for example. The ultra-realist wildlife painters would never do this. If a given species has 9 tail feathers, for example, my result might have 7 or 10 because that looks fine in my image. The real hardcore folks would walk up to my piece, immediately notice the error and dismiss the piece out of hand...:) ! So like everything else in art (and life) there's a whole spectrum of good/bad, acceptable/unacceptable, etc. I'm just doing what feels ok to me and that I'm able to do.

Oh, before I forget, some more bird info since several folks here obviously enjoy ravens and crows, as I do. The family to which ravens and crows belong (corvidae or corvids more informally) all are known for intelligence, clever behavior, knowing how to take advantage of other species (including humans!), etc. Corvids include ravens, crows, jays, magpies and a few other species (Clark's Nutcracker in the US, for example). So Elain's magpie could technically be a crow (there are black-and-white crows in Europe, for example) or could actually be a magpie like North America's Black-billed Magpie.

DrDebby
12-06-2010, 01:57 PM
The osprey is magnificent. The second one's stare is just so intense.

virgo68
12-06-2010, 05:27 PM
woohoo! what a great start - I love the woodpeckers ;)

RainySea
12-07-2010, 12:11 AM
Cool video of the Lewis woodpecker. Nice pen work on the Osprey. . . that young one has an intense stare! he's definitely doing well on his practice to look tough/treatening :)

seejay
12-07-2010, 03:40 AM
John, you are doing a great job here, both with your fine pics and your natural history info.

(BTW, your portrait thread inspired me to try some of my own - wish me luck!)

Joan T
12-07-2010, 01:27 PM
Great detail on the woodpecker's feathers. You definitely have the talent to do these creatures. Both ospreys are super!!! I don't think I've ever seen one close up.

JTMB
12-08-2010, 12:24 AM
Thanks Debby, Jackie, Rainy,Chris and Joan!

Ospreys are great birds, and I've been fortunate to see a ton of them on my annual raft trips in Oregon.

Here is Day 4, for which I chose Mallards - for reference I used a video I shot at a pond very near our house. These are in the A4 Moleskine, using Pitt pens - meaning the colors are not exactly accurate, but generally close enough for sketch purposes.

So, only 68 sketches left...!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Dec-2010/165640-103-0498-PAN-MALLforDecSB-Dec7,10-WS.jpg


http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Dec-2010/165640-103-0502-PAN-MALLforDecSB-Dec7,10-WS.jpg

RainySea
12-08-2010, 12:41 AM
Hi John. . . I am partial to ducks after doing my studies of them last month, and mallards are my fav. Love that deep beautiful green around their head! Its like irridescent almost on some of them. Beautiful mallards and like all the different angles.

John, since you use wc often. . . do you know of a transparent, non-granulating black or gray? Can't seem to find on from DS. TY

Chuckcamo
12-08-2010, 01:31 AM
The Mallards look great, good job with the Pitt pens... like how you did the reflection on the water.

JTMB
12-08-2010, 01:32 AM
Hi Rainy,

Yes, ducks are great - and Mallards are certainly the most convenient to sketch since they are 'park ducks' and acclimated to people. There are a number of other nice species from a looks viewpoint, but they are harder to get close to.

As to a transparent, non-granulating black...

I tend not to use black per se, but when I want transparent black, I figured out a good way to mix a very nice bluish black using Daniel Smith watercolors. I mix Sepia and Indigo, playing with the proportions to get the black I want, although it's more of a blue black, but has a very nice look to my eyes. Both Sepia and Indigo are transparent. I'm not sure if they granulate, but my recollection is that they don't.

I also have straight Ivory Black, but that is semi-opaque.

JTMB
12-08-2010, 01:36 AM
Thanks, Chuck! Our posts crossed in cyberspace.

eyepaint
12-08-2010, 10:38 AM
Great work!


I saw a programme on some in Japan who walked out with nuts, too hard for them to crack. placed them where oncoming cars would run over them and crack them, waited till they were run over and then collected and ate them ... repeating process :)

I saw a similar/the same program. These birds can recognize human faces. They also figured out complicated multi-step puzzles to get at food.

robertsloan2
12-08-2010, 09:26 PM
John, the four mallards are fantastic. You're showing them from so many different angles, I get a great sense of their three dimensional form. Gorgeous birds. I always liked male mallards with their iridescent green heads and that little vivid blue-violet wing band.

virgo68
12-08-2010, 10:36 PM
Ducks are such fun to watch and I am guessing, paint too?! These are great John, I think when you find a subject that interests you in general it makes it much more satisfying and easy to make them an art subject too - your sketchbooks certainly indicate that ;)

RainySea
12-08-2010, 11:25 PM
John, thanks tons. . . I don't actually have either of those particular colors so I tried experimenting with similiar colors that I do have.

French Ultramarine + Burnt Sienna made a warmish dark

French Ultramarine + Burnt Umber made a blueish dark, almost a payne's gray color!

Indantrone Blue + Burnt Umber made a neat dark that is almost a black!!

YAY, now I can work on the painting for my SECOND day of December and try this out :)

DrDebby
12-08-2010, 11:41 PM
Great mallards for day 4. You do have a way with birds.

JTMB
12-09-2010, 02:14 AM
Thanks EP, Robert, Jackie, Rainy and Debby!

EP - yes, a professor in Seattle at the University of Washington is the person who did the face recognition work. He has been working with crows for quite a few years.

Jackie - Definitely birds motivate me as a subject. All the drawing has helped me really understand the structure a bit as well.

Rainy - glad I could help.

Here is day 5 - White-crowned Sparrows. These birds are summer and fall birds in our yard. They have all left for the winter, but I had a video I had taken of them during the summer that I used for reference.

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Elain
12-09-2010, 02:54 AM
You're going well with the birds, John.

Now that is a good idea, making a video for practice on drawing. Almost worth getting a recorder to do horses :)


I like the sparrows. You capture the movement of different birds, and postures.

robertsloan2
12-09-2010, 12:33 PM
John, great little white-crowned sparrows! I love the way you've shown their markings so clearly. I've seen these, you helped me recognize one of the little brown birds that shows up now and then. Wonderful!

Rainy, I forgot to mention on the other thread where you asked about a cool dark that doesn't granulate - I love Sodalite Genuine from Daniel Smith. It's a natural mineral pigment with that blue-black color close to Payne's Grey, mixes well, is great in monochromes. That was the tube that the cap broke so they sent me a replacement so now I've got lots of it - and need it because I use it so often.

It also makes a good cool color if you want to do a muted earths triad with Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna or Indian Red for the reds. It's blue enough to function as a blue for something like that. Indigo is also great too, what I've got in my W&N set is Indigo and Burnt Umber.

RainySea
12-09-2010, 07:52 PM
John, love the sparrows. . . those are my fav bird as they are so plump and cute little guys.

Robert, thanks!

JTMB
12-10-2010, 12:24 AM
Thanks Elain, Robert and Rainy!

Sparrows are a favorite family of birds for me as well. There are quite a number of species and in some cases the differences are subtle, so it's a challenge to learn to ID them all accurately.

For Day 6, I went for the good, ol' all-American American Crow. These are still in the A4 Moleskine and done with Pitt pens.

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RainySea
12-10-2010, 09:31 AM
wow, I can really see in these drawings compared to your raven drawing how different the two are . . . the beak / face looks so different! I just sorta always lumped em together and thought of the Raven as bigger

robertsloan2
12-10-2010, 10:17 AM
Wonderful crows! Yes, I have to echo Rainy here - you've shown the differences between them beautifully. I've always thought the big black birds were cool, on down to grackles.

DrDebby
12-10-2010, 09:16 PM
The sparrows are marvelous.

The crows are very well done. I particularly like the one facing out with the foreshortened beak.

Chuckcamo
12-10-2010, 09:55 PM
The sparrows and crows look great...:) I have always been a fan of crows, they seem to have more character than most birds.

seejay
12-10-2010, 11:17 PM
I'm enjoying seeing the birds from your part of the world John, thanks for posting.

virgo68
12-11-2010, 12:48 AM
Sparrows and crows - we get both here but maybe not the same type of crow?! Great stuff John!

Joan T
12-11-2010, 10:17 AM
I'm a sucker for color so the ducks really appeal to me! Great job on all of these!!!

Ella Ann
12-11-2010, 03:42 PM
Great sketches and also background info.:thumbsup: It's good to know how to differentiate between the crows and ravens.

JTMB
12-11-2010, 09:40 PM
Thanks Rainy, Robert, Debby, Chuck, Chris, Jackie, Joan and Elan! :wave: :wave:

Here's Day 7, and a wonderful woodpecker species that is one of my favorites - Northern Flicker. We have up to 8 of these in the yard every day of the year, using our suet feeder. They are great birds to watch.

These are A4 Moleskine sketches using Pitt pens again. I like the Pitt pens for their speed and convenience (and absolutely no bleed-through on the paper). However, they do give a flat, illustrative type of look compared to graphite or colored pencils, at least for what I'm able to do right now. Since time is tight for this project, though, I've been gravitating toward the Pitts. For those birders who might see these, again the color of the bird is off because of the limited number of colors available with the pens. The actual bird is kind of a combination of the colors from page one (which is too yellowish and brownish) and page two (which is too gray).

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Chuckcamo
12-11-2010, 10:37 PM
The woodpeckers look good, like how you did the head perspectives.. great job!

RainySea
12-11-2010, 11:42 PM
neat woodpeckers. . . looks like they have interesting markings. Love the one with the food in its beack :)

too bad you can't blend colors with the pens.

seejay
12-12-2010, 12:13 AM
Nice update. I don't think we have anything like woodpeckers here.

poochemio
12-12-2010, 12:22 AM
John what a wonderful array of birds. And you answered a question I posed today without me asking online. The crow raven thing. Don't ever think your posts are too wordy, some of us are thrilled with every word. My absolute favorite of all the birds is the second osprey, you captured the soul of the raptor in that one. A lovely end to my day reading your posts and looking at your sketches. Thank you

DrDebby
12-12-2010, 06:47 PM
Cheeky little woodpecker. Too bad they don't make the pens in more colors or have a way to blend them better.

virgo68
12-12-2010, 06:54 PM
Woodpeckers look great - never seen one in real life, do they all "tap" or just certain species?

Looks like you have caught the markings very well.

JTMB
12-12-2010, 09:03 PM
Thanks Chuck, Rainy, Chris, Margo, Debby and Jackie!

Jackie - All woodpecker species use their bills to pry bugs out of wood and in some cases the ground...usually from dead trees. They also use their bills to excavate nest holes as all the species that I am aware of are cavity nesters. They also use their bills to 'drum' prior to breeding and nesting season. The males drum to attract mates, and the drumming at that time of year can be very loud. A number of species will seek out metal objects that resonate, like rain gutters, metal road signs, chimney flues, etc. And the drumming can be amazingly loud. Drumming or drilling for food can sometimes be used to tell species apart, but not always. The Pileated Woodpecker, our largest species, drills for food more slowly and tends to have a 'thicker' sound. The Red-breasted Sapsucker has a drumming 'cadence' that is very distinctive. Other species (Hairy and Downy as two examples) are harder (or impossible) to tell apart by their drumming, though you can by their calls. The Lewis's Woodpecker flycatches frequently, but most other species don't do that much or at all. The Northern Flicker often drills in the ground for bugs as well as in trees. That's a primer on woodpeckers...

virgo68
12-12-2010, 09:17 PM
thanks for that John! I didn't know that some seek out metal objects - I imagine that can get pretty noisy - especially on the chimney flue. We get birds on ours sometimes (mostly pigeons) and their cooing and jumping about echoes enough ;)

JTMB
12-14-2010, 11:24 AM
Thanks, Jackie! Yes, the noise they produce can be quite amazing (and unnerving, if the homeowner doesn't realize they're just looking for love and not trying to drill holes into their house - although that can happen sometimes as well). The loudest one I ever had was this past spring. I was walking on one of the trails through our neighborhood and heard the telltale cadence of a Red-breasted Sapsucker, but it was metallic and the loudest drumming I had ever heard. I tracked down the noise and the bird had found a house that had a metal corner edging that went the whole height of the house - so when it drummed on that, the entire 20+ foot of metal acted as an amplifier for the sound. Pretty incredible.

Day 8 is a fun little bird that happens to be our state bird - the American Goldfinch. The male in breeding plumage is a bright lemon yellow with a black forehead cap. Females are also fairly bright during breeding season, but in non-breeding plumage, the birds get a drab and dirty yellowish tan or brown. The sketches here show some of each. The legs on a couple of the birds are really poor - my excuse was doing them quickly. :o (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) Goldfinches are almost entirely seed-eaters, and they particularly love thistle seeds, so at the end of the summer when the thistle has seeds available, a big patch of thistle will draw hundreds of these birds. So one of the poses here shows a bird in a thistle :o flower. Again these are A4 Moleskine sketchbook and Pitt pens.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/14-Dec-2010/165640-103-0522-PAN-AMGOforDecSB-Dec14,10.jpg

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RainySea
12-14-2010, 03:16 PM
Aw, what an adorable little fellow. . . beautiful colors. Love the one in the flower :)

virgo68
12-14-2010, 04:52 PM
These are great John! I like the side views where I can see the markings a little easier and my favourite is the first one you see as you scroll through the post ;)

I should imagine it is unnerving when you first here the woodpeckers belting out a tune on such an accoustically charged piece of metal!!! What starts out as being "cute" could wear thin pretty quick I reckon! I love the birds that visit our garden till they start pooping all over my outdoor furniture, car, washing......... :lol:

robertsloan2
12-16-2010, 12:58 AM
John, the goldfinches are great! Love the different poses and the thistle. That's awesome.

Chuckcamo
12-16-2010, 02:33 AM
Very nice sketches, goldfinches are nice looking birds, the color and poses look great...:)

seejay
12-16-2010, 06:30 PM
John, I assume the gold finches are only small birds, they must look great when in full colour. Nice drawings once again.

DrDebby
12-16-2010, 08:53 PM
Wonderful gold finches.

vhere
12-17-2010, 10:07 AM
Lovely :) such a perky lively feel to them

Elain
12-19-2010, 02:17 PM
Very interesting about the drumming of the woodpeckers. like Chris in Australia, we don't have woodpeckers in New Zealand.

Nice sketche sof the gold finch. Great to show one on a thistle head to give an idea of size.

I guess maybe their colour becomes more drab so they are not so conspicuous for prediators when they're not trying to be noticed by the opposite sex.

Scattykat
12-19-2010, 06:07 PM
what a great idea to use birds as yer theme, they're all neat, I really like those goldies tho', and the mallards are well cool too...

JTMB
12-21-2010, 10:36 PM
Thanks Rainy, Jackie, Robert, Chuck, Chris, Debby, Vivien, Elain and Scatty!

Well, I finally finished Day 9. With still three more (33 sketches! - :eek: ) it's going to be touch and go whether I actually finish, but I haven't given up all hope yet. :)

So day 9 features Band-tailed Pigeons. This species is not your common trashy city urban pigeon, nope! The live-under-the-bridge, beg-for-peanuts-in-the-park pigeons are feral and therefore considered an invasive species and not protected. Not that they're in any danger of disappearing even lacking protection of course. The Band-tailed Pigeons are shy forest-dwelling species that are all identical in terms of markings and not nearly as common as they used to be. However, they still can be sometimes found in large flocks, and when they discover bird feeders and descend in a sizable flock, they are like birdseed vacuum cleaners. Earlier this year we had a flock of around 30 of these birds showing up most days. I got video of them feeding, and used the video to sketch various angles and aspects of the bird. These are A4 Moleskine, using Pitt pens.

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seejay
12-21-2010, 11:30 PM
Love your pigeons John. :clap:

Pigeons are amongst my favourite birds (even the trashy ferals), very gentle and quite clever. Here is a Wikipedia link about one of our local pigeons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crested_Pigeon) in case you are interested.

Chuckcamo
12-22-2010, 02:07 AM
very nice sketches, like the different perspectives too...great job at catching their likeness...

RainySea
12-22-2010, 01:04 PM
very cool pigeons. . . I used to love to watch them and feed them when I was young. also, a guy at the end of the block had a bunch of them that he would release each evening to fly and I loved to watch them.

These colors on these are great, esp. just using pitt pens. Love all the poses

DrDebby
12-23-2010, 12:24 AM
I like all the poses you do on the birds. The pigeons are delightful. Keep going, you'll make it. I'm farther behind than you are.

eyepaint
12-23-2010, 11:20 AM
I like all the poses you do on the birds. The pigeons are delightful. Keep going, you'll make it. I'm farther behind than you are.
Agree. On both parts :)

robertsloan2
12-23-2010, 11:19 PM
Wow! I love your Band-Tailed Pigeons, John. They've got so much character and so much detail that I could recognize them if I saw them. That's fantastic. Once again your story enhanced the birds.

JTMB
12-25-2010, 12:50 PM
Thanks Chris, Chuck, Rainy, Debby, EP and Robert and...

Merry Christmas everyone!

We spent a relaxing Christmas Eve at home after going out for a quite early dinner, and I managed to make some progress on my sketchbook project. It now appears I will actually finish this month. :)

Day 10's bird is the ubiquitous Canada Goose, with a variety of poses taken from a video I shot in the fall while plein air painting. Mostly I focused on various head angles, but threw in one full bird, and a set of legs.

Day 11's bird is the equally ubiquitous (for our location anyway) Dark-eyed Junco, which is in the sparrow family even though it doesn't look like most sparrows. They are generally the most numerous species feeding in our yard during the winter months. In spring some stay around for the year, but the majoity head further north, or higher up in elevation to their breeding areas.

All are in the A4 Moleskine, with the geese in Pitt pens and the juncos in pencil. The Pitt pens, for me at least, are tough to get much modeling of form, so I decided for the last two species to do pencil sketches that give at least a bit more form. All the sketches were done quickly, probably about five to no more than ten minutes per sketch.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Dec-2010/165640-103-0559-CanGooForDecSBChal-Dec25,10-WS.jpg

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JTMB
12-25-2010, 12:52 PM
And the rest of the Dark-eyed Junco sketches...

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CandAlArt
12-25-2010, 02:03 PM
Thanks for the geese & junkos! I LOVE seeing a flight of geese, not a frequest sight here tho' we have local ponds full of 'em I should visit to sketch. I have frequest junkos in my yard and they are one of my favorites with their cute colorations. You caught the curious expressions so well. Merry Christmas!

virgo68
12-25-2010, 05:56 PM
Wonderful! You capture the stance and positioning of all the birds so well, it makes them very recognisable ;)

DrDebby
12-26-2010, 03:49 PM
The birds are just wonderful.

I like your note about the feet not belonging to the head of the goose. :lol:

seejay
12-26-2010, 04:39 PM
Very nice John.

I like your note about the feet not belonging to the head of the goose. Ditto from me.

robertsloan2
12-26-2010, 05:44 PM
Fantastic Canada geese! I love the variety of poses and the way you got such a good dimensional feel for them. I'm very familiar with the geese and you brought back all those memories.

Dark-Eyed Juncos are wonderful. You got their quick motion and gestures spot on, also the pencil did give you more rounding on them. Wonderful bird sketches! You're getting so good at these, it's amazing watching your progress - always so true to species and now so true to their motion and habits as well. Thanks for posting them!

Looking forward to your twelfth masterpiece series!

Scattykat
12-26-2010, 06:08 PM
bravo on the last two, love that little junco bird, don't know it over here, but it looks a sweet thing. Only one more to go, looks like yer gonna finish...

Chuckcamo
12-26-2010, 09:13 PM
like those Junco sketches, the shading and lines look great. The first sketch of the geese is my favorite pick...:)

Artlike
12-26-2010, 11:24 PM
Great job with birds!
Ed

JTMB
12-31-2010, 02:43 AM
Thanks Candace, Jackie, Debby, Chris, Robert, Scatty, Chuck and Ed!

I came in under the wire for this month - finished up tonight. These are Varied Thrushes, from several videos I took during a snowstorm. These birds are stocky and short-tailed to begin with, but since the videos were taken on cold days with the birds trying to stay warm - and therefore fluffed up - they looked very chunky. The drawings are in the A4 Moleskine sketchbook done in graphite.

Classes start next week (3 classes and possibly four this term) so I don't know how I'll be able to fit in the January challenge...but I'll try. December was definitely a fun project!

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CandAlArt
12-31-2010, 11:01 AM
Wonderful birds! Hubby offered to get me a very simple digital camera and I think I would like to try birds, if I have the pics to go by. They move too fast outside my window. If I sit still (and clean the glass) I bet I could get great poses from the bird feeder outside my kitchen. Thanks again for posting your birds! Happy New Year!

RainySea
12-31-2010, 11:18 AM
John, congrats on finishing! Wow, that is a lot of birds to draw in one month. . . you passion for them shows in your varied, careful to detail and lovely drawings every time! Have fun in your January classes!

DrDebby
12-31-2010, 05:42 PM
Congrats on a marvelous finish. Those thrush (thrushes?) are very cute all puffed up to stay warm.

seejay
12-31-2010, 11:44 PM
Dare I say you saved your best until last? There is real life in your thrushes. :clap:

Great work with your challenge, thanks for sharing.

Scattykat
01-01-2011, 03:53 AM
well done on making it to 12, love the last one, all those assorted angles of the thrush, sweet drawings individually, and a great collection of refs to paint from...

Davkin
01-01-2011, 12:24 PM
Sorry I haven't been around to comment John. I'm glad to see you are still drawing birds, you have an amazing dedication to the subject. Congrats and finishing the challenge, you did well.

David

vhere
01-03-2011, 09:51 AM
lovely! bright eyed and lively

JTMB
01-03-2011, 07:19 PM
Thanks Candace, Rainy, Debby, Chris, Scatty, David and Vivien!

I've enjoyed each monthly challenge quite a bit. For January, I think I'll do birds as part of an overall landscape or scene, but with four classes (not all equally long, fortunately) coming up starting tomorrow, my output will be down a bit. Probably quite a bit! But I'll definitely do something.

dianapotts
01-03-2011, 09:07 PM
You really captured their little personalities here and their feather design. Birds are absolutely precious and your love of them shows.

Diana

Diddley
01-07-2011, 01:38 PM
I love LOVE your bird journal... and thank you for the added info about the types of birds. I love all the poses you capture... they look so right. Thanks for sharing.

robertsloan2
01-07-2011, 02:17 PM
Wonderful varied thrushes! I had to smile seeing them so puffed up against the cold, reminded me of so many other small birds I've seen turn into puffballs. Gorgeous renderings. Fantastic poses. You did a magnificent project for your December challenge and I'm looking forward to your next project!

mhimeswc
01-08-2011, 06:33 PM
Wonderful bird sketches!

JTMB
01-09-2011, 01:43 PM
Thanks Diana, Tracey, Robert and Michelle for looking and commenting! I certainly had fun with this monthly challenge.