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Old 05-11-2010, 09:18 PM
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Davkin Davkin is offline
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Re: Local Birds

You certainly are one busy man John. I almost took one art class one night/week, and backed out because I didn't want even that much pressure. I love sketchbooks with a theme and yours is a good one, I'll definately watch with interest.

David
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Old 05-11-2010, 10:14 PM
Tintin-in-Singapore Tintin-in-Singapore is offline
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Re: Local Birds

Just catching up on this thread, I can completely understand the difficulties. Often just getting a photograph is hard enough, let alone drawing them from life. To cap it off when you get back and actually sit down to start, you often realise that the photograph doesn't always show you the bits you want.

Robert that is nutty about the museum in Kansas. Being the well travelled and sophisticated sort....maybe hahahaha... one thing I like in Europe is the way people really use the museums and things - and are encouraged to. It was actually a nice feeling to walk around somewhere like Kew Gardens and seeing people sitting drawing and painting. I think the general idea is so long as your not in anybodies way, nobody minds. The whole aim of the places is that people can go and study things.

On the other hand the Australian Museum in Sydney used to be wonderful until it got PC and commercial. The Museums in Asia are generally limited - although Singapore does have the world class zoo 10 min from me, the bird park and botanic gardens 30min away. So i can't complain.

Sorry John, didnt mean to hijack your thread It was good to read about the general approaches. I think Audubon after shooting the birds would mount them in the pose he wanted. (One way to get them to stay still!) As you say though it was very different times. Incredible work he did though. I have a repo book of his prints, one of my pride and joys. Sad looking through some like the Carolina Parakeet though.

Funny most non US people want to go visit and see NY, LA or whatever. I went to NY once, and well just another city... I want to see bears - from a distance - the mountains in Montana I think, California Poppies, geese, crossbills, hummingbirds oh and skunks and racoons! I think I watched too much Daniel Boone and Grizzly Adams after school as a kid.

I have been fascinated with the birds since i was a kid - painting them though I need a lot of work, and find them very difficult to do well - in other words I'm crap. So I very much look forward to seeing more of yours.

David - I think you and I could have a competition for who is trying to avoid pressure. My dream job right now would be burger flipping. The less responsibility I can come up with the better! The only bummer aspect of that plan is $$.

Scott.
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Old 05-11-2010, 10:49 PM
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Re: Local Birds

Thanks Jamie, Robert, David and Scott. No problem, Scott - I love the input. The only problem I have now is feeling guilty that I haven't done more than one post so far... ! I promise more to come, at least in a couple of weeks, hopefully before. Yes, bird painting, photography and even watching is a challenge. A good scope helps, but certain species of birds (the warbler family as one great example) are so active that it's pretty much impossible to get them in a scope long enough for a look; it's hard enough to get them with binoculars. When I went through Seattle Audubon's master birder certification program, we spent a lot of time working on 'birding by ear' since there are many situations where you hear many more species than you are able to see.

During the certification program, we were able to visit two major natural history museums in the area and had access to their bird skin collections - in one case, they have skins dating back to the early 1900's. It is a dilemma for the museums on what to allow and what not to allow. In our art history class recently, this topic came up about doing copies of master paintings in the Louvre. In times past, many people did this with canvases of all sizes and few restrictions. Apparently now there are strict limits on when this can be done, and what size canvases can be used - the reason? - well, apparently some enterprising folks would bring in extremely well done copies of master paintings and try to walk out with the original...!
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Old 05-12-2010, 11:40 PM
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Re: Local Birds

Scott, I think I'll join the "No pressure" team, definitely! The less pressure I put on myself for deadlines and so on, the better I draw or paint.

John, that must have been so great getting to see the bird skin collections. I'd love to be able to sketch from mounted birds someday, and if I got used to drawing birds in general well enough then reconstructing the skins into full bodies in lively poses would be possible. You're tempting me to draw birds more often now too.
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Old 05-13-2010, 04:04 AM
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sparkling sparkling is offline
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Re: Local Birds

That's one interesting theme you have going here. I love birds and I'm curious to see this journal progress
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Old 05-13-2010, 01:52 PM
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Re: Local Birds

This is a lovely drawing, and a bird sketching journal is a great idea!!
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Old 05-18-2010, 09:58 PM
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Re: Local Birds

Thanks Robert, Jamie, Silvia and June! Yes, my life is very busy right now - but doing what I want to do, which makes all the difference. We just came back from a whirlwind 5-day trip to PA to see our two oldest nieces graduate (one day apart) from college - one in Pittsburgh and one in Philly. Since I couldn't bring the materials needed for my class projects, I took my bird sketchbook and worked on it while waiting for the plane, while in the plane, while in the car, and whatever other time I could fit in. We managed on two mornings to fit in some quick birding at Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, very close to Philadelphia International Airport, which gets a tremendous variety of birds despite its proximity to a major airport and a major city. So I expanded my definition of "Local Birds" to include birds that are local to areas I visit as well as around my home - . I picked up a couple of life birds (first time ever seen) and drew them and several other birds.

So here's the first post of several to load the drawings from the trip. All the drawings are in the Moleskine notebook. All the drawings were done using photo references from either guidebooks or bird magazine articles.

The first two were done in the airport in Seattle before the plane loaded, about half an hour in each one.

The first one is a Varied Thrush, which is a bird that only exists in the western part of the US, so is a prized find for easterners who come out and visit our part of the world. The good old American Robin is a thrush, so this species and some other species share some characteristics with the robin. This species is quite shy, and is generally a winter visitor to my yard. They breed at high elevations and migrate to lower elevations in the winter. The males (drawn here) are beautifully colored, and the females are not that much more drab than the males. This drawing was done with outlines in Sigma pen and then using Derwent Inktense pencils.



The next image, also done at the airport, is of a Band-tailed Pigeon. This is another species that only is present west of the Mississippi River, in a couple of areas. These are native birds, not feral invasive species like the common city pigeons that we are all familiar with. These birds are shy as well, and are flocking birds. Once they discover a feeder, however, they are daily visitors and have a huge appetite...! We have a group of about 15 visiting our feeders every day as I write this. This image was done with a Sigma pen and Derwent Inktense pencils.



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Last edited by JTMB : 05-18-2010 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:09 PM
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Re: Local Birds

The next two drawings were done in the car driving from Philly to Pittsburg for graduation ceremony number 1. These two species were drawn because they were both seen at the Heinz National Wildlife Refuge the morning I flew into Philly on a red-eye and we took a couple of hours to bird the refuge before the long drive.

The first one was a life bird (first time seen in the wild) for me - a Black-throated Blue Warbler male, which is about as distinctive a warbler as you can find - pretty much unable to be confused with any other species. The tail is drawn too long here, but everything else is pretty much accurate. This was done in Sigma pen and Polychromos colored pencils.



The next one is another Warbler - a Magnolia Warbler - that I had on my life list previously, but only from having heard it while on a trip to Tennessee. This time, we got great looks at multiple birds because we pretty much hit the peak of the spring warbler migration. Done with Sigma pen and Polychromos.



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Old 05-18-2010, 10:13 PM
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Re: Local Birds

The next pair of birds are common ones, found throughout the country. The first is an American Goldfinch, which happens to be the state bird of Washington State. (We also have some Lesser Goldfinches in limited parts of the state, but the American Goldfinches are the typical ones seen.) Again - Sigma pen and Polychromos.

The second painting is of your basic Song Sparrow, found all over the US. For those of you who live in the eastern half of the country, you will probably look at this drawing and think it's too dark. That is because the subspecies of Song Sparrow we have out in our neck of the woods is substantially darker than east coast birds.

American Goldfinch



Song Sparrow Singing



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Old 05-18-2010, 10:32 PM
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Re: Local Birds

The next two birds were lifers for me on this trip, in the National Wildlife Refuge. The first is a type of warbler, called an Ovenbird (for reasons I do not know). It is common within its habitat, but tough to find - it is a ground feeder in the woods, and so is often heard rather than seen. I grew up with these birds in PA, but wasn't a serious birder then, so this was the first time that I got a good look at one in a number of years. The image is Sigma pen and Polychromos pencils.

Ovenbird



The next bird, another warbler species, is the Northern Waterthrush, also a tough bird to find. We do not have this species out in the Pacific NW, except for a very small area in Oregon, so I was pleased to see two of these on this trip - for another addition to the life list. These birds have a very specialized habitat - slow moving or still water surrounded by vegetation and they feed on the ground, so can be tough to find. Sigma pen and Polychromos pencils.

Northern Waterthrush



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Old 05-18-2010, 10:41 PM
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Re: Local Birds

The last two birds I drew on this trip were done on the airplane this morning flying back to Seattle from Philly. Both were done in Polychromos pencil (no pen outlines this time).

The first species was another lifer for me - a Carolina Chickadee. These are very common back east but don't exist on the west coast where we live, so it was nice to pick one of these up on the trip. They're essentially identical visually to Black-capped Chickadees.

Carolina Chickadee



The final bird of the trip was drawn not because I saw one on this trip, but because I really like raptors - and particularly falcons. This is a small falcon called a Merlin. Merlins were the falcon of choice for women of the royal court in England when falconry was a standard sport of the royalty. Being a smaller bird, it was considered easier for women to handle. Interestingly, the term "off on a lark" originated with this bird. Falcons were used to hunt gamebirds (grouse and similar birds) but sometimes a Merlin would chase after a lark and thus the term "off on a lark" as meaning that someone is engaged in a less-than-useful or time-wasting pursuit. There are several subspecies of Merlin. This drawing has some color issues but overall is a pretty good general representation of the bird.

MERLIN

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Old 05-18-2010, 11:46 PM
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Re: Local Birds

Absolutely gorgeous. I am so glad you include information on your birds. It's always great to learn new things.
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Old 05-19-2010, 12:50 AM
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Re: Local Birds

John, wow! Thank you for posting so many gorgeous, accurate and detailed birds. Your mentioning it when a tail's too long or the colors might be a bit off helps too, I might recognize them if I ever see them. The information is so valuable and your drawings are so detailed and beautiful. I love the backgrounds you place them in too, the berries with the chickadee and the tree trunks around the wood pigeon, the leaves with the goldfinch -- the different poses they're in are so lively too.

I love your birds journal! Thanks for continuing and seizing the chance to draw more birds -- and congratulations on all those new life birds you've drawn. Looks like you had a wonderful trip! Well done!
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:26 AM
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Re: Local Birds

Thanks Debby and Robert! I will definitely be keeping at this journal as I'm enjoying it tremendously. Birds are really great creatures and great sketching subjects.
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Old 05-20-2010, 06:44 AM
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purpalia purpalia is offline
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Re: Local Birds

I was really looking forward to see your updates!

I especially love the Carolina Chikadee, this must be the cutest little bird I ever seen!

Also, thank you for the useful comments and description
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