Sunday, December 12, 2010
Starting Robins, Finishing Gulls
Of course this was a day or two after all the flocks of American Robins had gone through our crabapple. In the next three weeks I only saw one or two robins, and then only briefly. Then yesterday they again came through as a large flock, stripping off most of what is left of our crabapples. More power to them! That's why we planted the crabapple to begin with.
But I was too busy to sketch so had to settle for some photos. That in turn led to the numerous sketches below, which in turn led to the quick watercolor at top.
One odd thing with the photos is that all of the birds look somewhat rotund rather than lanky as I tend to think of this common bird. And my drawings and watercolor pick up that stubbiness. That bothers me. But I'll have to hope that they come through again and I have time to do live sketches.
I'm not thrilled with the watercolor. An adult male robin can be really striking. The combination of black, rust orange, white and gray makes for a resplendent bird. That's what I tried to catch. But I don't think it's quite there.
In working on this painting and the drawing I realized how complex both the eye pattern and the bill are.The bills curves down from the top in a surprising way. And the white eye ring is broken up by numerous black spokes. If they weren't so common American Robins might be one of our most sought-after birds.
I also finished the Laughing Gulls print a few days ago and printed an edition of 12, one of which is for sale at my etsy site. It's hard to believe but it went through 10 more versions after what I posted here.
The main reason for that is that much of a Laughing Gull is gray. And yet the wings looked black in the version I posted. Since this is a one color print, all black, I needed to try various linear techniques to get the sense of gray, or at least to differentiate the wings from the true black of the head.
As I did that I found that I also wanted to change the water. So one thing led to another and pretty soon a largely dark print became a largely light print.